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No, Internet Guy, The Bean Isn't The Worst Monument Of All Time

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 3, 2017 4:44PM

Here at Chicagoist, we think The Bean is totally fine, if not outright good. As the girl in the "Baby Got Back" intro put it: it's so big, so round; it's like, out there! (If your butt looks like the Bean, though, you should go to the doctor.)

Not everyone sees the Bean's roundness and bigness as enough, though. A cranky individual named Will deFries has termed the Bean, falsely, "the worst monument of all-time." It is unclear why he hyphenated "all time," but here's why he doesn't like the Bean.

First and foremost, he thinks modern art is kind of a scam:

I, personally, am not a fan of any monument that holds essentially zero cultural relevance. Sure, this is “modern art,” but I could literally prick my finger and smear blood all over a canvas and dub it “modern art” too. The only difference is that mine is less Instagrammable so no one would take selfies in front of it. Half of modern art is just the product of an artist telling you there’s significance behind something when, in actuality, they’re just trying to make an honest buck like the rest of us.

He also argues that this particular modern art has only taken off because it has a mirrored surface, which lets people—Lollapalooza-going millennials, especially—Instagram and Snapchat their reflections. It's "essentially one giant bathroom mirror."

Here's the thing: No. I mean. I agree that the Bean is not super-rooted in Chicago history, so maybe it doesn't have "significance behind it" the way a Chicago Fire memorial would. BUT. Here are some counterpoints in no particular order.

1. Beans were definitely burned during the Chicago Fire, so maybe the Bean IS rooted in Chicago history.

2. People do more than take selfies with the Bean. Sometimes, they slap a dildo on it.

3. The Bean is a place you can take cover during the rain and large hail we're expecting today, and lets not discount that.

4. The Bean is officially called "Cloud Gate," and we may one day find out why. This creates an exciting aura of suspense. Where's the cloud? Where's the gate?

5. Part of what makes Chicago the city it is is our gigantic, random public art we don't understand. Take the Daley Plaza Picasso sculpture: no one really knows what it's a sculpture of! A monkey? A lady? Who knows.

6. On a more serious note: Making art people want to engage with—even through The Dread Platform of Instagram—isn't bad. deFries is basically arguing that good art is too challenging for social media, or selfies, or something, which feels slightly insane. People take selfies with the Mona Lisa, sir.

Alright. Thank you! This has been a hot take on a hot take, and I'm not even that sorry about it. Long live the Bean and its mysteries.

PS: David Schwimmer, like me, does not mind the Bean. The Friends franchise is on my side.