You Know Times Are Bad When The Irish Lose Their Sense of Humor
From the London Times [via artinfo.com]:
Here's an image of one of the paintings:
The offending artworks set out to mock Mr Cowen, better known by his nickname Biffo, which stands for “Big Ignorant F***er from Offaly”.
One, which was smuggled into the National Gallery, pictured the Irish leader on the toilet holding a toilet roll. It remained on display for 20 minutes before security took it down.
The other painting, portraying the Taoiseach holding a pair of blue and white Y-fronts, was hung in the Royal Hibernian Academy.
The success of the stunt seemed to provide a welcome respite from the barrage of gloomy economic news, but the authorities took a different view.
And here's a photo of the Irish Prime Minister (which I would be much more inclined to press charges for, if I were him. At least the painting is clearly satire [both images from the TimesOnline website]):
Even more disappointing than the fact that the Taoiseach (the Prime Minister of Ireland) is so unable to laugh at himself that he's apparently permitting this abuse of power is the fact that the RTÉ (Ireland's national tv and radio broadcast system) received such a displeased response from the Taoiseach's office that they later felt compelled to issue an apology for the lighthearted way they originally reported the story. (How dare they act, you know... Irish, and find the humor in it?)
Again, from the London Times:
[The apology] was in stark contrast to the jovial tone of the offending news story of the night before, in which the newscaster said with a straight face that the Taoiseach was “not thought to have posed for the anonymous artist”.I must agree with Fine Gael on this one.
The apology prompted fevered discussion on blog sites, with much criticism of RTÉ and the Garda Síochána - the police - as well as caption competitions for the offending paintings. Michael Kennedy, a member of the Irish Parliament for Fianna Fáil, the ruling party, which Mr Cowen leads, insisted that the RTÉ report was “a gross insult to the dignity of the office of Taoiseach”. He called on RTÉ's director-general to tender his resignation.
However, Fine Gael, the main opposition party, said last night that the affair was “more reminiscent of Russia in the 1930s than Ireland in 2009”.
Lighten up Mr. Cowen...your over-reaction is making you look much more the fool than those portraits ever could.