The Spear (and smear) trend on Twitter PDF Print E-mail

South Africans take to the social networks to voice their opinions on the controversial painting and its defacement.

Controversy continues to spiral around the painting, entitled “The Spear”, by Brett Murray, which was defaced at the Goodman Gallery, in Johannesburg, yesterday.

The satirical painting depicts president Jacob Zuma in a pose reminiscent of the Victor Ivanov print “Lenin Lived, Lenin is Alive, Lenin Will Live”. The Murray painting shows Zuma with his genitals exposed – something that has been interpreted as a comment on his polygamous lifestyle and reputation as a womaniser.

Captured on camera by eNews, a man said to be a university professor calmly approached the painting and painted a red cross over Zuma`s face and genitals. A second man then began smearing black paint across the painting with his bare hands before being apprehended by security.

The ruling party and its supporters have condemned the painting as obscene and vulgar, and is suing the gallery to have the painting removed. The case will be heard in the Gauteng High Court tomorrow, at 10am, and has been deemed a “matter of great national interest” and proceedings will be televised on etv.

All a-Twitter

“The Spear” became one of the top trending topics in SA on Twitter yesterday as South Africans reacted to the news of the defacing of the artwork. Some of the tweets include:

“I love how all anyone can talk about is #TheSpear & how the desiccation of art makes the news. How evolved we have become...”

“The Goodman Gallery should be shut down & the two men who vandalised #thespear must be given presidential medals."

“We need to stop degrading and disrespecting our AFRICAN leaders and expect the WEST to respect us and our leaders #thespear.”

“#TheSpear distracting South Africans since 13 May 2012.”

“Hard to imagine that the #TheSpear commands more attention & outrage than service delivery or crime.”

“#TheSpear debacle proves that SA has a long way to go to overcome the racist apartheid mentality that has become ingrained in our psyche.”

“If you think defacing or destroying art or books is acceptable, you don`t know or deserve freedom. You don`t have a right not to be offended.”

The etv video footage of the men defacing the painting has already received close to 38 000 views and has spread across international news media. “The Spear” now also has its own Wikipedia entry.

While Murray has spoken out, saying he never meant to cause any harm with his painting, a spokesperson for one of the country`s biggest churches, the Nazareth Baptist Church, said: "This man has insulted the entire nation and he deserves to be stoned to death.”

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee tweeted: “So, deface the painting and call for the artist to be stoned. Welcome to the 13th century.”

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