NowThis normalizes vandalism in the name of climate change
January 3, 2023
NowThis is now attempting to normalize the destruction of property as a means of protesting climate change, revealing a fun, little list of its viewers’ “favorite climate protests of the year” ahead of 2023.
“Here are some of your favorite climate protests of the year,” said a voice narrating the publication’s video countdown.
It dubbed an attack on Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” in London’s National Gallery as “arguably the most controversial protest of the year.” In October, activists with Just Stop Oil covered the artwork with soup and subsequently glued themselves to the wall beneath it. Touting their vandalism, the group admitted that the painting has an estimated value of $84.2 million.
Stopping climate change continues to be at the forefront of protests around the world — here’s a look back at some of 2022’s most dynamic demonstrations pic.twitter.com/5VlGX8EoXK
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) December 23, 2022
“This one lit the comment section on fire with people outraged that people would harm the helpless painting, but don’t worry there was a protective shield over the artwork and it was put back on display shortly after,” the video continued, minimizing the act of vandalism.
NowThis further highlighted instances where activists lit fires, vandalized businesses with spray paint, and used super glue to attach themselves to priceless artifacts.
However, NowThis did not use the words “vandalism,” “trespassing,” or “crime.” It didn’t even use a variation of those words to describe the property damage that’s been perpetrated by these activists. Instead, the publication called them “dynamic demonstrations” in a post.
After sharing its list, NowThis prompted viewers to share their own thoughts on the “wildest protest” of 2022.
Over the past couple of years, acts of vandalism and property damage carried out to make a statement in the name of climate change have made headlines globally. In an era where citizen journalism allows for content to spread rapidly online, climate activists have used the adapting flow of information to their advantage.
Attacks on works of art, specifically, seemed to grow popular starting in the summer of 2022, prompting the Association of Art Museum Directors to issue a statement condemning the acts.
According to AAMD, “attacks on works of art cannot be justified, whether the motivations are political, religious, or cultural.”
In response to recent attacks on works of art in art museums, AAMD issued the following statement. pic.twitter.com/27W5hRQ7ic
— Art Museum Directors (@MuseumDirectors) November 3, 2022
“Art crosses boundaries of time and place to underscore the creativity that people everywhere have expressed, and they represent our shared humanity,” it continued. “Attacking art for any purpose undermines those common bonds. Such protests are misdirected, and the ends do not justify the means.”
By refusing to call these acts what they are and treating the subject as harmless, NowThis is contributing to the belief that if activists don’t get what they want, violent acts and illegal activity are warranted and justifiable.