Another interesting article from the excellent Charlie Brooker in today’s Guardian newspaper, highlighting the connection between the Damien Hirst – Cartrain spat, which, I confess, I hadn’t come across, and the recent government threat to take away internet access to illegal downloaders.Cartrain – a teenage graffiti artist of no apparent wealth – had used an image from Hirst’s ludicrously expensive diamond-crusted skull (titled for the Love of Money, sorry, God), and incorporated it into a work which he then sold online. Hirst insisted that the Copyright agency should confiscate Cartrain’s works. So, Cartrain wandered into the Tate where Hirst’s Pharmacy installation (pictured above) was showing and ‘borrowed’ a box of pencils from the piece, which he offered to return, once he got his works back. The worth of the box of pencils is, according to Hirst’s lawyers, half-a-million quid. I could have sworn I saw the same box for about £3 in Ryman’s. Apparently, police arrested Cartrain’s dad on suspicion of ‘harbouring pencils’……… Brooker’s point is that getting heavy with teenagers who might be on the fringes of legality – whether you’re a famous artist, or a government minister acting as the music industry’s paid thug, is not only guaranteed to make you look stupid, but it’s also counter-productive. Goliath = big bully; David = folk-hero. Labour’s Lord Mandleson’s threat to ‘cut-off’ persistent illegal downloaders is also pointless and unworkable. As Brooker observes:
“I guess the powers that be could pressurise local service providers, but if they start cutting off broadband connections willy-nilly, neighbourhood Wi-Fi “theft” will skyrocket. And how do you stop people using iPhones and other mobile internet devices? Smash their fingers with rocks? Position snipers on rooftops?” David always gets more support than Goliath. This government could do with all the support they can muster, and though Hirst might not be bothered about popular opinion while he’s awash with money, there’ll come a time when he may well be. Well done, Charlie, for deflating their shared, ridiculous arrogance.