The internet is like this:
We want to believe that, in the face of terrible violence like yesterday’s attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, that humans still retain a kernel of essential goodness. We want to believe that somehow, we’ll all find a way towards unity and mutual respect. We want to believe that one of the art world’s most mysterious mainstream figures is tweeting motivational memes to get us through these tough times.
Unfortunately for the million-plus followers of @thereaibanksy—cleverly using a capital “I” instead of an “L”—at least that last sentence is false. (Also, that account is not to be confused with @realbanksy, which itself has more than 20,000 followers, or @therealbanksy, some kid.) It’s pretty darn obvious to anyone with a cursory familiarity with Banksy’s actual work, that it’s not the real thing. Nor is this cartoon, in support of the slain Charlie Hebdo staffers, by him.
Banksy’s work is, for the most part, darkly humorous, with an easily recognizable, bold, graphic aesthetic. It doesn’t involve scratchy pencil work. It doesn’t involve heartfelt, retweet-ready quotes from a place of naked sincerity.
Come on. Yet for some reason, people—otherwise smart people, even ostensible journalists—wanted to believe, yesterday, that this visual rallying cry actually came from Banksy’s brain.
Everyone should have realized this in about 30 seconds of looking at @thereaibanksy timeline, though, that this wasn’t the case. Here are the reasons everyone should have instantly known better.
1) The account updates multiple times a day, sometimes hourly.
The dude doesn’t show up to his own openings. You really think he’s going to tweet every two hours—or bother to schedule those tweets in Hootsuite or whatever?
For example, this, today:
Then this, about an hour later:
2) None of the images match the visual aesthetic, tone, or theme of his usual work.
Since when does Banksy do poorly blended, colored-pencil drawings on par with a high school art class?
Here are a few actual Banksy works portraying the artist’s usual sardonic tone, from an Instagram account (that may or may not be his) documenting some of the works from his New York residency:
When has he ever created a public work with a tone as deadly earnest as this inspirational Tumblr-popular New Year’s Day meme? (Let’s just ignore the fact that the tweet also needs a spell-check.)
3) Hello? The account bio on the actual page says it’s a “fan account”—just like all those other Twitter “parody accounts” of like, Will Ferrell and the bear from “Ted.”
4) His own official web site states he has no Facebook or Twitter account. Realizing that would involve the Googles or a few extra clicks, though.
5) The original image has already been traced back to the London-based artist Lucille Clerc.
In conclusion, let’s add some insult to injury: the late @Chrisrockoz Twitter account was not really Chris Rock, either, and also Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are fake.
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.