Edition 160

This week, Banksy brings attention to a different kind of crowd surfing, a luxury powerhouse has a soft spot for Parisian bistros, we check in on the newly established influencer mecca in Carlow, and an ugly dog contest puts a positive spin on imperfections.

A sea of support for migrants

Image: Screenshot from Banksy

Glastonbury’s biggest moment this year wasn’t musical. It was the appearance of Banksy’s Migrant Boat – an inflatable dinghy, crammed with dummies in bright orange life jackets, that floated over the crowd just as The Idles were kicking off with“My blood brother is an immigrant”.

The anti-immigrant right wing, lacking both the humanity to care about people, and the emotional intelligence to understand art, went overboard. The Home Secretary (that’s former Home Secretary — keep up) called it ‘vile and unacceptable’, saying it was ‘a celebration of loss of life’ – a misreading so deliberately wrong, you might call it ‘vile and unacceptable’.

Even on the left, the reaction was mixed, with no shortage of people missing the point and getting drawn into debates on ‘what is art?’ and, arguments over ‘who can speak for immigrants’.

Our initial reaction, before we’d heard of Banksy’s involvement, was simpler. Despite the wall-to-wall anti-immigrant rhetoric of Britain’s media and government, there is a (literal?) sea of support for immigrants, especially among young people. That’s an important message.

Political art is rarely this good. The stunt didn’t try to hijack the musical performance – it floated alongside it. It didn’t carry overt messaging, but it spoke volumes. And its simplicity not only created an image that landed on nearly every front page, it allowed ‘the other side’ to misrepresent it with such transparent dishonesty that the core message became more obvious.

A masterpiece.


Image: LVMH

The curator of class, luxury brand LVMH, is known for its high-end acquisitions of fashion titans like Dior and Louis Vuitton. But more recently, the conglomerate has shifted its diamond gaze to the worlds of travel and hospitality purchasing stakes in the likes of The Orient Express. It’s part of a trend that sees fashion industries move to elevate their offerings beyond products into experiences.

This week LVMH revealed their majority stake in Chez L’ami Louis, a century old Parisian bistro. The epitome of a building with a certain Je ne sais quoi about it, the little gem of Paris is run by the OG family, and LVMH want to keep it that way.

The acquisition will most definitely not change the profit margins of the conglomerate, but it does signify a new trend in experiential branding, and the search for authenticity that their key buyers adore! Supporting local… but also capitalism.

Check it out here.

The Harvard of hashtags

Ireland is about to become the Harvard of hashtags if a university in Carlow has anything to say about it.

Ireland’s first influencer degree has been making waves since it was first announced, and not only in Ireland, with over a quarter of the applicants coming from far-flung corners of the globe, including Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and Syria.

This groundbreaking bachelor’s program in content creation and social media, offered by the South East Technological University in Carlow, begins its first courses in September and promises to be a game-changer. Think modules like ‘celebrity studies’ and guest lectures from TikTok stars.

A senior lecturer at the university shared with The Times her vision of this degree levelling the playing field in the influencer industry. Right now, white influencers are cashing in 50% more than their BAME counterparts, according to a recent report by the UK’s SevenSix Agency. This program aims to change that, bringing diversity and equality to the forefront of digital fame.

Pawsitive images

While show dog contests showcase pups with perfect pedigrees – the right measure of snouts, the shiniest furs, pearl-white teeth, and symmetrical physiques, the World’s Ugliest Dog annual contest barks up a different tree, championing dogs that do not conform to typical beauty standards. Or any beauty standards at all. In fact, if any of these were ever anywhere near a beauty standard, they dragged it behind the sofa and chewed on it until it was a misshapen, saliva-covered, untouchable mess.

This year’s first place winner is Wild Thang! A furry friend who was diagnosed with canine distemper as a puppy, which prevented the growth of teeth and gave him muscular disorder in his legs.

By casting unfiltered light on the dogs that get left behind – most of these monstrous mutts grew up in shelters– the competition hopes to promote “the adoration of all animals and the benefits of adopting”. Which is no less than these good boys and girls deserve.

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