Sunday, April 20, 2008

Flamboyant Affectations

Recently, the topic of a dog being starved in a gallery exhibit in Nicaragua has made news. The artist, Guillermo Vargas, and the gallery owner, has purported that the whole piece was an elaborate ruse, intended to illustrate the hypocrisy of the public. 

Obviously, if one were to not be aware that this exhibit was a fraud, it would be quite noble and good-intentioned to take up the cause and protest it. However, where is the line between actually caring about a cause, and merely pretending to care about it to boast your image? 

This all comes up because an acquaintance of mine recently signed a petition against this "starving dog" work on his facebook profile, and it is prominently displayed so. I told him that the whole thing was a fraud, but he refused to believe me (and several Nicaraguan newspapers).  Whatever. But, I began thinking incessantly about this (as per usual). Online petitions, as any sane person knows, do very little. Regular paper petitions have very little effect on a cause to begin with, so it is only natural to presume an electronic, intangible one would be even less effective. (

Even giving the benefit of the doubt that this gentlemen was not aware of this fact, surely he would realize that there are much more effective ways of protesting something, such as sending donations or forming some sort of physical amalgamation of people to oppose it. He, and hundreds of others, did not do this. They "signed" a petition and posted their signatures on their profile for all the world to see.         

It would appear, at least to a level-headed cynic like me, that the people who merely signed a petition and did nothing else don't hold topics such as animal cruelty in such important candor. In fact, it would appear they are doing nothing more than trying to generate a certain (and artificial) image of themselves to others, in order to impress. And that, my friends, is called an "affectation". 

Not that I can speak for all of the supporters of this "petition", but I do know the young man in question is not exactly an animal rights activist; he eats meat, first of all, an activity which unarguably contributes to more animal cruelty and environmental destruction than any other mainstream activity know to humankind. He has not (to my knowledge) volunteered at an animal hospital and/or shelter, (and surely, if he is willing to boast that he signed an online petition, he would plaster across a billboard in Times Square that he did this). And, he probably has not made any contributions to any charities devoted to animal welfare. 

It is my assumption that, based on the given facts and refusal thereof on his part, the only real reason he and so many others are "against" this exhibition is for no other reason than to establish yet another affectation. Cruel? Perhaps. But at least I don't go broadcasting it. 

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