Jamie's hand is hurt. Let's do a six-panel comic!

Posted on January 15th, 2008

Sorry we're late. Jamie injured his hand over the weekend, "whipping up a batch of mortar." I have no idea if that's a euphemism and no desire to find out.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to share their thoughts on the Decapitator. I'm only sorry we didn't hear from the Decapitator himself. Or herself, as more than one reader was quick to suggest. Here's a small sample of reader feedback:

"What a crazy fuckhead."     -Michelle M.

"Kinda scary, although my guess is he/she is trying for an edgier version of Banksy. My guess: Copyranter."     -Patrick D.

"There are a million other culture jams I would pick before deciding to rip the head off of poster girls."     -Kyle D.

"The saddest thing of all is people thinking this is brilliant."     -DC McQueen

"Clever, I suppose, but it's not art. Vandalism for the techno-age."     -Zakk U.

"This is complete and utter bullshit by someone with obvious photoillustrative talent yet a complete lack of concepting skills."     -Kevin S.

"At the very least the person doing this needs therapy… but then again, anyone who takes the time to deface a High-School Musical ad is okay in my book. But... why didn’t they decapitate Zac Efron and the rest of that sickly delusional Up With People coterie?... Zac is the pure embodiment of evil and the face of everything that’s wrong with American Culture."     -Brian H.

These next two are long but definitely worth reading:

"The Decapitator is simply radically subverting the discourse around gender coding, appropriation and commodification of female sexuality, the male gaze, the pornoconsumerism of corporate marketing and its corresponding, exploitative effects on the global underclass. By confronting us with 'horror' tropes of brutal violence in the context of banal, reductive advertising, he’s forcing us to reflect on the inherent violence of beauty as commodity and our own complicity in it. Like Artaud, Michael Hanneke, Joe Orton, and even Sam Peckinpah at his most nihilistic, the Decapitator uses the outrage of violence and 'depravity' in an ultimately 'humane' way, as a schema to provoke us into re-evaluation and, ultimately, change.

"Or some shit.

"Ever since Joseph Beuys took over Art Land in 19-whocares, we’ve been inundated by crap like this. In addition to the Pill, Hollywood Squares, and Tang, the 60’s gave us the never-ending gift of empty, revolutionary-chic, radical art gestures. And every year, some art school kid thinks he’s ass-tinglingly original by 'staging an intervention' on a billboard or a statue or a soda cracker or whatever. That’s not so say some guerilla art or (god this phrase is so 90s) 'culture jamming' ( EWW!) isn’t pretty cool, but this ham-fisted Decapitator shit just bores and grates."     -The exceedingly-quotable Keith P.

"unless you have a sample size greater than the one available on the flickr stream you linked to, i'm not sure that you can really draw any significant conclusions about the number of times a woman is decapitated in these works. similarly, as far as i am aware, the gender of the decapitator is unknown - is it possible that it is a woman making these images, perhaps as commentary on the decapitation of women in advertising? or even a man - who would be just as entitled to discuss sexism in the media as a woman would be. it seems to me that this body of work could be read in a number of different ways. i notice that one of the banner ads on your site (linking to the merchandise section) features a headless woman's torso, showing the underside of her breasts with your logo emblazoned across them. it's a little bit more subtle than a bloody head with a stump of vertebrae, but i fail to see how it's acceptable if you feel this way about the decapitator's work."     -Katie R.

A few "how do you know it's not a woman?" e-mails aside, Katie was the only reader to go on the offensive (though you can read more pro-Decapitator opinions here). I think she raises some interesting points, I love that she reviewed the archives for ammunition and I'm more than happy to respond:

Sample size: I'm familiar with the n>30 convention but I don't have to see thirty Uwe Boll movies to know he's a horrible filmmaker. Also, we're not talking about a random sample. Of the work produced thus far, the Decapitator has inarguably depicted violence against women more frequently than violence against men.

Gender: It's certainly possible that a woman created these images, though I find the "brutal violence against women as feminist statement" argument highly suspect. If the individual had instead used a magic marker to draw a penis ejaculating on the model's face, would you regard it as insightful commentary on the sexual objectification of women in advertising?

Our banner ad: I hope I'm not the only one who sees a difference between a photorealistic image of a gushing neck stump and a cartoon cropped to highlight the T-shirt we're selling. Any interpretation of symbolic decapitation is completely unintentional, just as today's comic was never intended to suggest leglessness. If anything, it was meant to suggest that we are socially maladroit idiots with an encyclopedic knowledge of '80s cartoons. In this, I think we have succeeded.

I have no defence for the charge of gratuitous neathage.


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