Banksy is recognized for his mostly black-and-white, stenciling technique resembling that of fellow American artist Shepard “Hope” Fairey and old Soviet propaganda posters. His painted scenes advocate the whole panoply of progressive causes, such as pushing for health care reform, climate change legislation, nature, and peace; bemoaning war, the police, corporate control, the commodification of art, poverty, the displacement of Native Americans, and Hurricane Katrina; and idolizing Charles Manson. A recent series of wall paintings on the Israeli-Palestinian border protested security measures Israel took to protect itself against suicide bombers.
To commemorate the Copenhagen Climate Summit in November 2009, Banksy painted four murals along Regent’s Canal in London, one of which declared “I DON’T BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING” in red letters, the last two words partly submerged below the water line. This was supposed to be a statement about man-made climate change, and while it likely had little impact, it arguably yielded more efficacious results than the summit itself.
Recently Banksy was invited to help storyboard the introductory “couch gag” for “The Simpsons,” which aired last Sunday.
The opening credit sequence begins with a few clues foreshadowing the Banksy material. The bird that flies across the screen in the opening shot is carrying a rat, one of Banksy’s favorite icons. “BANKSY” is spray painted over a billboard advertising Krusty the Klown’s funeral business. Bart is writing “I must not write all over the walls” all over the chalkboard and walls of the classroom. “BANKSY” is tagged on the wall outside the school.
After the Simpsons sit down in their living room, the familiar couch scene pans out and becomes a color image on the wall of a dreary, black-and-white factory. Rows of forlorn, sickly Chinese women slave away hand-painting animation cels, while guards stand by and a sorrowful Communist-sounding melody with a chorus of wailing voices serenades them. The completed frames are passed to a barefooted waif who carries them one-by-one to an oil drum, climbs to the top of the drum, and dips them in a bubbling, green, toxic substance to treat them before hanging them on a clothesline to dry. On the ground are a pile of human skulls and bones; a rat pulls out one bone and drags it away.