It was a rough day for the person running the Hong Kong Police Force’s social media account yesterday after a ham-handed post intended to ride the coattails of the Art Basel banana zeitgeist didn’t go down too well with Hongkongers.
The post was a visual reference to an internet-famous artwork consisting of a banana duct-taped to a wall. (It’s titled Comedian, by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, and it’s actually a sly commentary on… you don’t care, do you?)
Long story short, the banana has been very much in the news of late, not only because of what its buyer called the “blatant absurdity” of the work itself (didn’t Marshall McLuhan once note that “Art is whatever you can get away with”?), but also because while it was on display at Art Basel Miami Beach, the $120,000 piece of produce was unceremoniously peeled and eaten by a visiting performance artist.
In an apparent effort to get in on the buzz, Hong Kong police posted an image to Twitter yesterday of a tear gas canister similarly duct-taped to a wall. (Which, first of all, is just… Jesus, guys. Really?)
They then proceeded to miss the point of the artwork entirely (for the record, it’s meant to be a playful indictment of the eye-watering value the art world ascribes to the sometimes patently ridiculous) by appending the self-serious missive: “For a Police officer, using force, including tear gas, is always the last resort. If rioters don’t use violence, Hong Kong will be safe and there’s no reason for us to use force. Say NO to violence. Let’s leave the tear gas cartridge on the wall forever. #Bananaart.” (Groooooooaaaannnnn.)
For a Police officer, using force, including tear gas, is always the last resort. If rioters don’t use violence, Hong Kong will be safe and there’s no reason for us to use force.
Say NO to violence. Let’s leave the tear gas cartridge on the wall forever. pic.twitter.com/yCV6sSuYfV
— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) December 12, 2019
Confusingly, the police appear to have removed the initial tweet, only to re-post it again without the #Bananaart tag. (Oh, we guess that way no one would notice it.)
Well, unsurprisingly, the tweet prompted the internet to roll its collective eyes so hard it actually pulled a muscle.
“Say NO to violence?” one incredulous commenter asked. “I totally agree with it. So please make a clear order to the front line popo to stop using [excessive] violence to HK protesters!”
Others posted videos — of which there are many — of specific incidents of police deliberately firing tear gas or pepper spraying bystanders and journalists without provocation.
Hong Kong Police: LeT’s LeAvE tHe TeAr GAs cArTRIdgE oN tHe WaLL fOrEvEr. #Bananaart
Also Hong Kong Police: pic.twitter.com/ZwlkaTFRpN
— #SOSHK Fight for Hong Kong (@Fight4HongKong) December 12, 2019
“Someone ate the banana as an art performance,” one commenter noted. “Are you going to learn from him and eat the tear canister?”
Some, meanwhile, simply posted “eat a banana,” a Cantonese slang phrase roughly equivalent to “go suck a d**k.”
Read more Hong Kong coverage at Coconuts HK.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.