Picture of Consumer Jesus

From Banksy’s Wall and Piece

In the early 2000’s the economic climate was declining, but for an unknown reason, the shoppers of the United Kingdom, did not stop their holiday spending. This piece of Banksy’s work reflects an outrage at the level of consumerism during christmas – a time meant for focusing on the christian values of charity and giving.

The picture shows Jesus famous crucifixion image, with shopping bags in his hands rather than nails, suggesting that consumerism has killed Him. This is a very strong message, as Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and there are Christmas connotations, in the candy cane in the shopping bag. Jesus criticized the focus on material things at the expense of development many times in the Bible; over throwing tables and sales-people in temples. The fact that Jesus and the shopping bags are melting in Banksy’s recreation of the crucifixion insinuates the consumerism ephemerally fills a satisfaction, but the satisfaction doesn’t last.

The image shows a disgust of brands and consumer based tradition during Christmas, which is shown through the candy-cane and the Mickey Mouse logo shown in the shopping bags.

The candy-cane comes from Germany where a choir master asked a local candy maker to make a sweet-stick for the parents to buy for their children to ensure they are quiet during services. He asked the candy maker to crook the end of the sweet to represent the shepherds in the christmas story and to justify selling them at church. This is a prime example of early consumerism and using the religious holiday for profit.

The Mickey Mouse logo is used to represent big brands, corruption and profit-fueled manipulation of the public by large corporations. There are lots of links between Disney and Banksy, he uses the company to demonstrate that they are selling an elusive, mythical American dream that can’t be achieved. But in this particular piece, he uses the well known logo of Mickey Mouse’s ears to represent big money grabbing companies that profit off the back of the Christian holiday.

To a lot of people, what makes art art, is a meaning or message conveyed through an image or set of images, by those constraints, this image, though made with graffiti stencils and spray paint onto a canvas, is art rather than vandalism.