I had this movie in my Netflix Instant Queue for a while now; the other day I finally hit play.
This documentary follows anti-graffiti people around the United States who buff over street art in their city. The three main anti-graffiti vigilantes are all retired, old men: Fred Radtke in New Orleans, Jim Sharp in San Francisco and Joe Connolly in Los Angeles. Of the three Fred is the biggest dick, with Jim right behind him.
I am for graffiti, murals, stickers, wheatpaste, etc. it gives life to a city. For example, all the street art found in Los Angeles makes it beautiful, because its residents, and foreigners, are able to express themselves via art.
On my recent trip to Provo, Utah, I told one of my cousins that it needs some vandalism, it needs some graffiti or stickers otherwise it remains plain and gray like the film, Pleasantville.
The city of Provo lacks…color, life, something out of the ordinary. Without some form of street art, the residents will go continue to look at the same plain walls.
Back to the film, Radtke, also known as The Grey Ghost, ruins the street art around New Orleans. He buffs the art regardless of who the artist, even if it’s Banksy. Also, he believes that people who do street art are soon-to-be criminals. He says graffiti is a gateway to other crimes, always referring to a relationship between graffiti and more violent crimes.
A. Bunch. Of. Bullshit.
Jim Sharp is another dick. He wakes up early in the morning and removes/spray paints over street art in the Berkeley area. Sharp doesn’t care whether it’s a sticker, wheatpaste, a room-for-rent sign, missing pet advertisement, he will remove it. If he can’t remove it, he will simply spray over it, with his traditional, gray spray can.
An interesting point was brought up with the filmmakers, isn’t Sharp doing the same thing he is against? Isn’t he creating “graffiti” when he sprays his spray can? He’s breaking the law too.
According to Sharp, he isn’t breaking the law. (He probably believes it too.) But if someone robs a liquor store and I rob the suspect to get the stolen merchandise, am I safe from prosecution? I don’t think so.
The third of the vigilantes is Los Angeles’ Joe Connolly. He calls himself the Graffiti Guerrilla. After Los Angeles went up in flames, as a result of the 1992 riots, Connolly decided to take back his community…by fighting graffiti and street art! He tagged “Graffiti no longer accepted here. Please find a day job. Thank you.” on top of a shop in 1993.
Connolly is a hypocrite. He says he is a fan of street art and even attends and art show in the documentary. If someone is an admirer of something, they usually support it, they don’t restrict others from admiring it too. He seems like a decent dude but his thinking is questionable at times.