Image courtesy WikipediaIt’s been nearly three years since Foghorn put his final test round through ArmaLite’s gargantuan AR-50, but the bolt-action .50 BMG is still making noise. This week it’s shaking the world of Italian arts and antiquities, and it’s all because ArmaLite Photochopped a super-sized rifle into the arms of Michelangelo’s David . . .

The cheeky Photochop, with the tag line, “It’s A Work Of Art” (click here to view it) has the Italian cognoscenti in a lather. It’s even got Culture Minister Dario Franceschini’s bocce balls in a twist. As reports, he’s crying Basta! and Tweeting: “The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign.”

The Historical Heritage and Fine Arts Board also sent ArmaLite a cease and desist letter demanding that the ad be withdrawn, claiming that the Italian government has a copyright on commercial images of the sculpture. 

Which may actually be true, but this controversy is still just sound and fury, signifying nothing. ArmaLite actually pulled the ad last July, and they’ve done a pretty good job of scrubbing the Photochopped David from the internet as well. It took me a lot of searching to actually find a link to the the image at all.

Here’s a quote from ArmaLite’s press release, which was released just this afternoon after I reached out to them for comment:

ArmaLite has recently been made aware that an advertisement utilizing the image of the statue of Michelangelo’s David holding an ArmaLite AR-50A1 rifle was found to be offensive by certain individuals.

ArmaLite deeply regrets offending anyone and certainly had no intention of doing so.

The “Work of Art” media campaign was initiated over a year ago, but was removed from circulation when the new ownership of ArmaLite took responsibility for Company direction in July 2013.

ArmaLite has been making some of the finest firearms for military, law enforcement and commercial applications for 60 years and was the inventor of the AR platform of sporting rifles. In fact, AR stands for ArmaLite.

Mark Johnson, the chief executive officer of Strategic Armory Corps, LLC, the current owner of ArmaLite stated, “I believe that an advertisement utilizing an altered photograph of a masterpiece such as David is in poor taste. We deeply regret that ArmaLite offended anyone by this media campaign, which we ended upon our acquisition of the Company.”

“We will make every effort to be sure that any remnants from the campaign are removed from the public”.

85 Responses to OMG! A Statue! Holding a Rifle! OMG!

  1. Do you keep saying Photochop to avoid some sort of trademark issue, or do you just prefer saying it that way? Curious

    • A lot of people actually call altered pictures “photochopped” as opposed to “photoshopped” …while I use the latter, I see many people use the former

      • I generally use “Photochopped” for unprofessional, silly work like a lot of memes or joke pictures online.

        • I’ve heard photochopped used to describe altered images of automobiles. Like a concept for future modifications.

    • Like a totally dysfunctional economy, a continuing hit parade of crooked politicians, and many other fun issues?

      • What the hell is a dysfunctional economy?
        but what magazines do you read? be careful that you become blind!

    • ”The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law.”

      The David statue is already armed. That thing draped over his shoulder is a sling, and it was good enough for killing giants.

      • In David’s right hand he holds a rock. The original bullet, used for a hundred thousand years to secure food and defend family. And after David felled Goliath, the Old Testament says he cut off Goliath’s head. Most renderings of David show him with the head, holding a sword. Thus any offense to Italian sensibilities vis-à-vis a modern weapon in his hands is hypocritical. David was of slight build (although Michelangelo sculpted him 14 ft tall, 3 times life size) and a deadly warrior. If David had had a choice I’m sure he would have preferred a rifle to a sling and stone. One could posit that the sling, in skillful hands, was the functional antecedent to the modern rifle.

  2. too early in the am for pics of franks and beans. . . . how about a NSFW and picture AFTER the jump?

  3. David is already armed with a sling. And, after felling Goliath, he uses the giant’s sword to sever his head. Is that PC enough for Italy?

    • Right after David got done praying to God, he used a sling to kill Goliath.

      And when people say “What would Jesus do?” remember that doesn’t preclude whipping people and flipping tables over.

      Slings were the ‘sniper rifles’ of the era, and given the choice, I’m sure David would have used the fitty cal…

      • Malcolm Gladwell made this very point in his latest book David and Goliath. Far from being the underdog, David’s ranged weapon negated Goliath’s size advantage. Basically, David brought a gun to a sword fight.

  4. “The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law.”

    Pretty sure he was always armed, he has a sling over his shoulder, same one he used to defeat Goliath.

  5. I found the ad image in a few seconds, multiple versions even. ( )

    I’m not sure about Italy, but in the U.S. Copyright protections don’t extend to items that old. Here I am pretty sure it is in the Public Domain.

    • And the news silliness and stupidity continue in the race to the bottom of the barrel. In other news…

  6. OMG! Portray one of the foremost worriors in history with a weapon! The horror! What a bunch of beta males this world is full of now.

      • Referring to the source picture of the statue or of the statue itself? Derived works of art can be so confusing to me…..

        • It’s OK, he they used a picture of the little replica “David” that my parent used to have on their coffee table.

    • Almost every country in the world is trying to monetize everything they’ve got lying around, because they’re all broke.

      At the time the law protecting the commercial reproduction of works of art, including the electronic reproduction via software, Bill Gates bought up the electronic reproduction rights to a truly remarkable amount of European art.

  7. Mark Johnson, the chief executive officer of Strategic Armory Corps, LLC, the current owner of ArmaLite stated, “I believe that an advertisement utilizing an altered photograph of a masterpiece such as David is in poor taste.

    Errr…. really?!?! Good grief.

    • I think he was echoing the (phony) outrage. The use of masterpieces of artwork in modern art, parody, and advertizing is as old as time itself. I am certain that depictions of the david statue has been reused, modified and redistributed countless times, and for far less savory things without the Italian government enforcing any copyright claims.

  8. From the Italian article, the Superintendent of Museums in Florence said:

    “To take advantage of the promotional David, as well as any other work preserved in our museums, require an assessment of the adequacy of the image, you must respect their dignity culture. In the past, advertising campaigns for Italian companies have been authorized by evaluation of the director and the decision of the superintendent. “

    I always find it fascinating how other cultures and countries treat and protect speech for both commercial and private enterprises.

    Also, scroll down to the comments. Somebody posted a picture of the Monna Lisa with a Beretta AR70/90.

    • If the image showed the rifle dropped on the ground and Dave had his hands up it would then be OK with the Italians.

    • “Hmm … maybe there is something to the notion that guys who own big guns are just “compensating”.”

      Yes. We’re insanely jealous of those antigun home defenders who can subdue a gang of thugs with their enormous penises.

  9. Just once I would like to a press release that says something like:

    ArmaLite has recently been made aware that an advertisement utilizing the image of the statue of Michelangelo’s David holding an ArmaLite AR-50A1 rifle was found to be offensive by certain individuals… Get over it.

  10. Isn’t Italy a socialist or communist state? Which would explain why they sue scientists over earthquakes.

    • It’s also the same bunch that refused to acknowledge the sun as the center of our solar system for several centuries. They also lost the war.

      • “the same bunch that refused to acknowledge the sun” The Catholic Church condemned Galileo Galilei, father of the modern scientific method, for supporting this theory. We want to make a list of contributions to science given by the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula in the last two thousand years?

  11. I feel like we fought a war at some point that should allow us to ignore whatever Italy is whining about.

  12. Do these nimrods realize David *is* armed in Michelangelo’s sculpture? He’s holding a sling in one hand, and a rock in the other. Which he used to kill Goliath.

    The moral of the story, of course, is ban slings. Or at least criminalize the carry of more than seven rocks. For the children.

  13. If Armalite had a pair, it would have released this announcement:

    “We have recently been made aware that an advertisement utilizing the image of the statue of Michelangelo’s David with his circumcised johnson dangling while he’s holding a rifle was found to be offensive by certain nitwits and panty-sniffers.

    “Well, too fvcking bad.”

  14. ??? How can you have a copyright of a photograph that anyone can take? Seriously?

    Note to Italy… your law is not our law. Deal.

  15. I would like to say to all those who, here, insult Italy, that the vast majority of Italians don’t care about this advert. Our minister of Culture, a leftist liberal, instead of wasting time with this crap, should worry about more serious things, example Pompeii.

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