Media

A brief look: Tricksy Banksy plays on words, phones taps

By Theresa Mallinson 8 August 2011

After his dark take on The Simpsons' credits last year, British graffiti artist Banksy's comment on phone-hacking is surprisingly playful. He can afford to be kind – none of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers has yet managed to crack his identity. By THERESA MALLINSON.

There’s been much public outrage over the UK’s phone-hacking scandals and little space for humour. Makes sense really, there are no easy laughs to be found in tapping a dead girl’s phone to listen to her voicemail, and thus any jokes have been of the dark and somewhat tasteless variety.

Trust the pseudonymous graffiti artist and social commentator, Banksy, to change that with a simple play on words. His latest work [http://www.banksy.co.uk/newoutdoors/index.html ] features a tap (a real one, not a visual representation) with the words “Brinngg! Brinngg!” painted above it. The simple cartoon man next to the tap is saying: “Oh no… My tap’s been phoned.”

As the image is displayed on Banksy’s website, no one yet knows where to locate the graffiti in actuality, although it’s assumed to be somewhere in east London.

Given the British press’s love of outing people who have become famous while maintaining their anonymity (Girl with a One-track Mind blogger Zoe Margolis springs to mind), it’s quite something that the man behind Banksy, who’s had a presence since the 1990s, is still managing to keep his identity a secret. In fact, both Margolis and fellow outed sex blogger Brooke Magnanti of Belle de Jour fame, suspect that their computers were attacked by trojans, sent by none other than the Sunday Times (which is, of course, owned by Rupert Murdoch).

One of the few facts known about Banksy for sure, is that he was born and raised in Bristol. Various theories have been put forward, with The Daily Mail claiming in 2008 that Banksy is a certain Robin Gunningham, but none has been proven beyond doubt.

Banksy’s no fan of Rupert Murdoch though: The trailer he directed for The Simpsons last year was a scathing commentary on Fox’s use of Asian companies to churn out the show’s animation and merchandise. Murdoch can feel lucky that Banksy’s take on his endangered media empire is somewhat more light-hearted. DM


Read more:

  • “Oh no… my tap’s been phoned: Banksy sprays his thoughts on the phone-hacking scandal, in The Daily Mail

Photo: Screengrab from Banksy’s website.

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