Daily Bafflements

The BafflerAugust 24, 2015
Ushers at Banksy's Dismaland./ Florent Darrault

Greeters sulking at Banksy’s Dismaland./ Florent Darrault

• Banksy has opened a “Bemusement Park” called Dismaland, replete with a water-cannon fountain, a castle with a dead Princess Diana inside, and two rounds of security (one real, one joke). It falls flat. “All the graffiti in Dismaland is official graffiti,” writes Jonathan Jones

Dismaland is a kind of consummation, for me, of all that is false about Banksy. It claims to be “making you think” and above all to be defying the consumer society, the leisure society, the commodification of the spectacle… But it is just a media phenomenon, something that looks much better in photos than it feels to be here.

• Looking for a laugh? Why not talk to Uber’s CEO! One of Stephen Colbert’s first choices for The Late Show, apparently, is Travis Kalanick, bringing to mind Ben Schwartz’s salvo in Baffler issue 27: “In 2014, comedy was stolen from the professional jokesters by their traditional targets and became, unexpectedly, the new language of power, policy, and politics,” he wrote. Perhaps, in 2015, comedy will be dictated by VC valuations.

• Remember the Hugo Awards, with its sad and rabid “puppies”? The outcome was not in favor of the puppies, with several “no awards,” and Chinese author Liu Cixin winning the top “best novel” prize, not that he is mentioned in, ahem, Breitbart’s piece on the ceremony.

• Why are millennials not using banks? Is it because they are taking a principled stance against ATM machines—or is it because they have no money?