For one afternoon, the grinning face of Bill Cosby on a mural owned by Washington, DC’s famed eatery Ben’s Chili Bowl was hidden under Kim Jong Un’s beaming visage. As Borderstan reported, street artist “Smear Leader” plastered a cutout of North Korea’s Supreme Leader on the restaurant’s wall some time yesterday, following up with a post on his Instagram, captioned, “Kim’s Chili Bowl. Instead of looking at a sexual predator, people can celebrate in jubilation that the great leader is now on the their Wall. Eat shit Cosby.” The defacement was short-lived, however; according to News4, a friend of Aniekan Udofia, the artist who painted the mural in 2012, removed Kim’s face around 5 pm.
The owners of Ben’s Chili Bowl are no strangers to backlash toward the image of Cosby, which they have kept up while other institutions — from Disney to New York University — have removed all traces of the disgraced comedian. The Washington Post‘s Tim Carman offers some insight into why the establishment might choose to retain a portrait of an accused serial rapist on the side of their restaurant, writing that the surviving members of the family-owned business think of Cosby, who has been a regular and a deeply loyal patron since the 1950s, as part of their circle, and that some “want to stand by their friend in his darkest hour.”
As yesterday’s cover-up demonstrates, however, the neighborhood doesn’t seem to agree. Many people praised Smear Leader, who works solely with stickers and wheat-paste stickups of a grinning Kim, on his social media accounts. As the Daily Beast describes in a recent interview with Smear Leader, the artist has an “obsession” with Kim and his regime and consequently decided, Hanksy-style, to poke fun at him through street art. It seems that in this case, however, Smear Leader was almost willing to break from habit: in a Facebook post this morning, he noted that his apparent Plan B was a sticker of Edward Snowden.