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If you’ve strolled through the clothing sections of a Los Angeles superstore in the past week, then it’s possible that you’ve seen a strange new item on sale. Across the city, the street artist known as Plastic Jesus has planted child-sized bulletproof vests in the displays of popular back-to-school shopping destinations like Target and Macy’s.
“WAKE THE FUCK UP,” remarked the artist in an email correspondence with Hyperallergic. “We all have the power in us to change society and make the world a better place. It’s no one else’s responsibility, only yours.”
Plastic Jesus is probably best-known for his exceptional trolling of President Donald Trump in Hollywood back in July 2016. It was then that Plastic Jesus constructed a tiny concrete wall around Trump’s star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, which quickly became a site of public defacement after the reality television host’s win in the presidential election. Just two weeks ago, the city of West Hollywood unanimously voted to remove Trump’s star from the Walk of Fame. (The decision ultimately lies in the hands of the Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who reportedly have no plans to remove it anytime soon.)
The guerrilla artist’s latest stunt comments on America’s fraught relationship between consumerism, apathy, and the weapons industry. In 2017, there were 65 incidents of gunfire on school grounds according to the non-profit, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. There have been 56 incidents of gun violence in 2018.
In June, Plastic Jesus positioned a small cage of stuffed animals near Donald Trump’s star as a reference to the president’s policy of holding the children of immigrations indefinitely in detention centers around the nation. Previously, the artist also gained notice for a golden Harvey Weinstein Statue he placed on Hollywood Boulevard during the Oscars.
The sales pitch on the tags of Plastic Jesus’ bulletproof vests reads: “No More Need for Thoughts and Prayers — Let your child know how much you love them — Money Back Gaurantee — Don’t let your child be the next victim.”
“All my installations try to bring some amusement, but also carry a deeper meaning which I hope people will consider,” the artist told Hyperallergic. “If this then helps act as a catalyst, then who knows where change may come from.”
He added: “We all have the power in us to change society and make the world a better place. It’s no one else’s responsibility, only ours.”
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
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This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.