When it comes to protest art, it seems you never know what medium might be used next. This week, it seems, it was the Wall Street bull, covered in dildos. Targeting Russia, according to many interpretations, the demonstration also included a shirtless man atop the statue, wearing a Vladimir Putin mask.
Brooklyn-based restauranteur Jeff Jetton has taken credit for the prank. According to his Twitter, the "Putin model" on top of the bull was no mannequin either — it was Jetton himself.
"Anybody who tells you sex toys aren’t good tools of resistance has never had a bag of dicks and a little bit of ingenuity," Jetton said in a statement to HuffPost. All of the sex toys used in the demonstration were reportedly donated by an adult entertainment company.
While the prank was shared widely on Twitter, it may not be without is consequences. On Tuesday, Jetton tweeted that his presence was requested by the police. "NYPD just invited me into the 1st precinct on Monday to receive a summons for my work as Putin on the Wall Street Charging Bull," he wrote. "I assume that’s some kind of award?"
This week's demonstration was not well received by all, however. Jetton faced backlash from critics, who contended that the stunt was needlessly homophobic.
"Putin on the Wall Street bull sends the message & is a playful way of referencing his famous shirtless horseback photo," wrote one user on Twitter. "But, the addition of rainbow dildos moves it to homophobia because the core of why it's 'funny' is that a man being penetrated is worth ridiculing."
Indeed, "Putin and Trump in a romantic/sexual relationship" has evolved into a political comedy genre of its own. The ubiquitousness of related memes has sparked a conversation about the willingness of Trump critics, and specifically self-proclaimed progressives, to utilize jokes that demean romantic and sexual relationships between two men.
As John Paul Brammer recently wrote in Them, this sort of joke "relies on the idea that gayness itself is laughable." Brammer was specifically referencing a recent cartoon that ran in The New York Times, which portrayed Putin and Trump as young lovers.
"Straight people, you do us no favors by painting our oppressors in our likeness," Brammer wrote. "It’s a bond powerful heterosexual men have held for ages, one that has far more to say about insecure heterosexual men than it does about anything gay, and you shouldn’t expect a pass on your homophobia just because you’ve cleared the lowest hurdle of wanting this monster out of office."
Jetton told Inverse that he did not intend for his prank to be a commentary on any sort of theoretical homosexual relationship between Trump and Putin.
"I had a box of 100 dildos donated to me," Jetton said. "I did not specify color, shape or size. Again I haven’t counted them but there were four different types. I had no say in the color but if anyone out there is interested in attaching meaning to a rainbow dildo that is their absolute prerogative."
As for the political commentary, Jetton told Inverse that "People can interpret it however they’d like."