Shiny happy people ? Banksy's statue outside a branch of McDonald's in south Bronx. Photograph: Scott Houston/ Scott Houston/Corbis
That Banksy – what will he come up with next? He's the genius of the obvious. The Bristol-born artist is currently "in residence" in New York, and not a day passes without a story about his exploits in the Big Apple. The latest is that Banksy has carved a statue of Ronald McDonald, mascot of the renowned fast food chain, and is moving it from oneMcDonald's to another in the New York area together with a – living – boy giving the corporate clown a shoeshine.
Look, it's a bit pointless mocking American capitalism, Banksy. Congress has already done that for you. How the world laughed when Republican extremists brought the "world's most powerful nation" to the brink of debt default. How it shrugged when this lunatic crisis was resolved at the last minute. What's America going to do next to make itself a living joke?
By comparison, Banksy's stunts are light entertainment for complacent liberals and Leftists. Being a bit of both, I can totally get behind his tilt at McDonald's. I am pretty sure it stands for everything that is wrong with the world. I can't quite remember the details but yeah, McDonald's, it's got to be bad. Go for it.
Yet all this reporting of Banksy's art and its fate reveals the massive intellectual lacunae in our current understanding of art. On the one hand, Banksy is a street artist, having a laugh defying the authorities. On the other hand, his works are now regarded as financially valuable so when they get defaced it is seen as an attack on some kind of cultural monument. It's just street art! Lighten up! It does not need to survive and people who pay big money for it are silly.
To his credit, Mr Banksy seems to know that. Hence the cheap art sale to those lucky tourists. They could sell the works at a huge profit, and have the blowout of a lifetime at McDonald's.