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Megan McGehee
Teresa Jimenez
January 20, 2013

Rhetorical Analysis: Banksy

Religious imagery is something that can be found in artwork all through the centuries. An anonymous world-renowned graffiti artist who goes by ‘Banksy’ places traditional paintings in public places altered to send an iconoclastic message about society and government. In this image he depicts a traditional figure of Jesus dying on the cross, but in his hands can be found shopping bags full of presents and candy. Jesus, an iconic figure in religious history, has been turned into a puppet to fit the mold of our consumer driven society. The rhetor presents an iconoclastic view that the integral commemoration of Jesus’ death and the religious aspects people describe themselves to be living by have been lost to Santa Clause’ presents and the Easter Bunny’s candy. By associating the image of Jesus’ death with shopping and consumer goods, Banksy is forcing the audience to re-evaluate what society values as most important. Banksy wants to remind his audience of the reasons Jesus died on the cross, and make people contemplate if they are living the way God has intended. The rhetor is iconoclastic because he allows the audience to formulate their own opinions by simply encouraging thought provoking questions through his artwork. Banksy utilizes his work as a catalyst for societal and political change. The anonymous character known to the world as Banksy, a London based street artist, is known for reworking traditional pieces of art to send a message to both authority figures and society in whole. The ethos of the rhetor is important because he is highly regarded for many reasons. Banksy is unwavering in his mission, and refuses acknowledgement and profit from his work. Thus further solidifying that he wants no gains monetarily or in celebrity distinction. This rhetor has the authority to make this particular argument in the eyes of the public because he himself has not fallen openly victim to the consumerism traps of society. Banksy has one objective: to rid society of its modernistic flaws. Since the beginning Banksy has employed his work to address political and social issues at hand in which the government and society are always the butt of the jokes. Those who view his art positively do so because he has made many political, iconoclastic statements in his work before and he seems to do it for no reason other than as an attempt to clean up society. The general public accepts Banksy’s work as constructive. Society feels not that Banksy is attempting to degrade what people have become, but instead that he has made it his mission to aid in ridding the world of the countless pitfalls in which most are trapped. This rhetor has the authority to makes such bold statements because he portrays a self image that has nothing to personally gain, contributing to the audience’s belief that he is genuinely and solely looking to construct and rebuild a healthier world.

The rhetor is prompted to create this image because of his views about what society has become and the ways in which society is currently failing. The argument is shaped upon the assumed religious knowledge that Jesus died on the cross thousands of years ago so that all mankind could be saved. He was a man who lived by simple means, and never valued tangible goods or monetary success. Banksy has created an image of Jesus being weighed down by consumer goods to aid in the realization that society is now consumer driven. People live in ‘the now,’ forgetting what is important. Banksy displays the vicious cycle of being so consumer driven by including a circular image above Jesus’ head. This exingence is employed to prompt theoretical discourse over the skewed idea of what society values most in current times. Banksy is addressing society’s failing morals and values. The rhetor’s motivation for the piece is to present his idea about the disappointment he believes Jesus would feel seeing how his...
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