'Spear' sparks hot Twitter debate
Debate on Twitter around Brett Murray's The Spear moved away yesterday from surprise and disgust to racism claims .
Though some Twitter users complained about the assault by security guards of a young black man accused of defacing the portrait at the Goodman Gallery - shown on e-News Channel and other outlets - others seemed to disagree on what constituted a "disrespectful" painting.
Popular author Zakes Mda bore the brunt of a few Twitter users when he wrote on the social networking site: "'Disrespectful' art happens all the time all over the world. It is the nature of art'."
One particular user, Sifiso Buthelezi (@glasskashenge), replied: "Ulikhehla elinenhliziyo embi (You're an old man with a cruel heart)."
Social commentator and trend analyst Dion Chang's comment, while not quite similar to Tselane Tambo's, suggested the president had still to earn a good reputation.
Chang wrote: "The one question no one is asking about #thespear is if any artist would have depicted Mandela like this. Respect is earned. #justsaying."
Rap star Hip Hop Pantsula said the painting, and others "like" it, were the kind that "r slowly tearing this country apart". He added: "It's all good to express ur opinion, but sensitivity is key (sic)."
Other Twitter users, like columnists Sipho Hlongwane (@comradesipho), argued that Murray's piece was relatively tame in comparison to Cape Town artist Ayanda Mabulu's 2010 painting titled Ngcono ihlwempu kunesibhanxo sesityebi (Better poor than be a rich puppet).
Mabulu's painting, based on Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, features prominent political figures such as President Jacob Zuma, Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, George Bush, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI and PW Botha sitting in compromising positions around a table. Both Zuma and Tutu's penises are exposed, with Zuma's being supported by a crutch.
Hlongwane posted a picture of Mabulu's painting and said: "So, like, why no outrage at Ayanda Mabulu's painting? This is worse than the #Zumaspear."
The same image was posted by other users, who all agreed it was more offensive than Murray's portrait.
@MissNonhle tweeted: "Standing where I'm standing, generally South Africans respect President Zuma as much as Americans respected former president Bush. Or?"