This piece of Banksy’s art has a very potent meaning that may be difficult for the average Western-World citizen to swallow. The piece captioned “Can’t beat the feelin'”, in Banksy’s book Wall and Piece, depicts Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald holding the hands of a terrified, naked girl.
The original image of the girl (Kim Phuc) was a photograph from the napalm bombings in Vietnam in 1972 by photojournalist Nick Ut, she had ripped the burning clothes off as napalm burned her skin. The napalm bombs created a worldwide disgust at the conduct of war and this picture became the symbol of the event that horrified the world. For Banksy to put this girl next to well known children’s characters, is a statement that aims to highlight our consumerism and greed that keeps the American people oblivious of the foreign policies that made these pictures possible. The image also shows how a population can be pacified by a purposefully designed culture of entertainment and consumerism. Banksy alludes to the American nation being blinded by possessions and material greed to the more pressing concerns such as the foreign policies and war conduct.
The image stresses the commercialisation of war itself, how the military has become a multi-billion dollar industry with powerful corporate lobbies. These thoughts remind us that the important things in life are free: peace, love and empathy for other people.
This piece of Banksy’s work is definitely classed as ‘art’, not just because it was produced on a piece of paper or canvas rather than a wall or a street floor, but because of the meaning and the call to think about one’s own behavior. The definition of what art is, is a constantly disputed topic, but in my opinion, this definitely comes under the category of art.