Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Potato Soup for Justice

One thing I’m going to miss about 2022 is people gluing themselves to floors and walls. I really hope they continue that trend in 2023.

There were multiple reports in October of 2022 about young protesters bravely trading their freedom for the once in a lifetime opportunity to hurl a side dish at a famous painting.

Two enthusiastic environmentalists in Germany threw mashed potatoes on the glass-covered Monet, “Grainstacks,” worth over $100 million. They then glued their hands to the wall under the now slightly tastier piece of art.

Earlier in the year, folks from the elegantly simple solution group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London. Then they glued their hands to the wall under the painting, tragically getting tomato soup dripped on them for minutes until someone with a solvent could get there.

The same type of hijinks happened in a number of other places, notably England, Italy, and Germany, with zealous young climate troopers gluing themselves to or near famous works of art, including one sculpture at the Vatican. The Pope responded with an official church statement, saying, “Meh. I never really liked that sculpture much anyway. Keep them glued to it. Might increase traffic to the gift shop.”

The message attempting to be relayed by the protestors, besides the excellent adhesion properties between super glue and human skin, seems to be something to do with the climate and the assertion that we’re hurting it. Although, they don’t seem to have one clear voice, and sometimes the message can get a little garbled, as with Phoebe from Just Stop Oil.

“What is worth more, art or life?” asked Phoebe, while glued to the wall under a Van Gogh with her best buddy, Anna. “Is it worth more than food? More than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?”

No one is sure what Vincent Van Gogh did to harm the planet. He did cut off and presumably dispose of one of his ears, but ears are naturally organic and compostable, so…?

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson attempted to explain the reason for the impromptu soup and glue gallery installation. “The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.”

OK, I hear you, but Just Stopping Oil doesn’t seem like the solution to lowering soup heating costs. It honestly sounds more like you’re organization should be named “Just Produce More Oil So The Cost Goes Down Naturally Due To The Laws Of Supply And Demand, but I guess that might not align with what you think you stand for. Also, it would be harder to fit on the T-shirts.

But never mind all the confused messaging. My favorite glue-yourself-to-something-in-protest story of 2022 was the Volkswagon protesters in Germany. It highlights beautifully how entitled our younger generations have become, although many of the Volkswagon protestors looked definitely old enough to know better.

Six members of the group Scientist Rebellion glued their hands to the floor of an auto dealership adjacent to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. The dealership/museum, called the Autostadt, (which literally translated means “stuck to the floor of my car”) was taken over by the plucky protestors who valiantly made their point that Porsche is an insanely overrated brand driven almost exclusively by pompous windbags. The Scientist Rebellion was really driving their point home (see what I did there?) right up until it was time to shut the Autostadt down for the evening.

The Autostadt employees – God bless each and every one of them – announced to the rebellious science guys that while they respected their right to protest and glue themselves to floors and stuff, it was time to call it a day. The staff then killed the lights, shut off the heat, locked up, and headed home for dinner.

Now, you would think that a group of scientists, being men of science and whatnot, would have been able to think ahead a tad, but apparently not. Science apparently didn’t even prepare them for what glue does.

Team Science had no plan for staying the night. No plan for getting chilly. No plan for potty breaks. No plan for food. Basically, no plan at all. So, what did this six-man brain trust of pure scientific brilliance do?

They complained on the internet.

Six grown men who glued themselves to the floor of a building they don’t own actually complained to the world that the mean guys at Volskwagon left them alone in the dark without a potty. And that they weren’t even letting them call GrubHub to get some food delivered. And also, presumably, that the big jerks didn’t care as much as they should have about their science protest.

I mean, come on, fellas! That is comedy gold. By all means, please keep gluing yourselves to things. These are the feel-good news stories we need right now amid high gas and food prices and rising inflation.

But a word of advice – as you’re packing up your tomato soup and your super glue for your next big protest adventure, you might want to also bring along enough common sense to know that if you glue yourself to an immovable object, you might be stuck there a while.

Plan accordingly.

And keep on rockin’ in the free world, baby!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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