OMG! A Statue! Holding a Rifle! OMG!

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The Historical Heritage and Fine Arts Board also sent ArmaLite a cease and desist letter demanding that the ad be withdrawn, claiming that the Italian government has a copyright on commercial images of the sculpture.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


  1. avatar David PA/NJ says:

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

    1. avatar rawmade says:

      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

      1. avatar Gyufygy says:

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

        1. avatar Cknarf says:

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

  2. avatar cknarf says:

    “Blow it out your ass, Italy.”

  3. avatar SD3 says:

    …because Italy has nothing else they should be worrying about.

    1. avatar IdahoPete says:

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

      1. avatar Claudio says:

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

  4. avatar Kevin R. Mussack says:

    Here’s an image of David with a weapon that doesn’t offend anybody:

    1. avatar John L. says:

      But that assault spear Goliath is holding is banned in 7 states…

      1. avatar Another Robert says:

        Meaning they are OK in the other 50?? 😉

    2. avatar Guy says:

      ”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.

      1. avatar Pulatso says:


      2. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        But it’s an assault sling that makes that rifle morz deadleeee!

        1. avatar Paul G. says:

          I believe that would be the original “shoulder thing that goes up”.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          An over the shoulder boulder holder.

      3. avatar NevadaSmith says:

        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.

  5. avatar Mitch says:

    There’s no rifle.

    1. avatar mrvco says:

      TTAG doesn’t want to get sued by Italy.

      1. avatar peirsonb says:

        At least before Foghorn is back on this side of the pond….

    2. avatar great unknown says:

      Your comment brings to mind something I saw in “Battle Cry” decades ago:
      “This is my rifle,
      this is my gun…”

      Completing this “poem” is left as an exercise for the reader.

  6. avatar Rich Grise says:

    This is one class act. I hope Staff will have an eye out for Italy’s response to this mea culpa.

  7. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

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

    1. avatar Hal J. says:

      If Michelangelo’s David is NSFW at your W, there’s something wrong with your W…

  8. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    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?

    1. avatar James says:

      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…

      1. avatar Rokurota says:

        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.

  9. avatar Baen Du says:

    “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.

  10. avatar Pat Carver says:

    I find it funny that they are so upset since the story of David and Goliath is a classic story of self defense.

    In addition, according to Wikepedia, David has become a symbol of the defense of civil liberties in the Florentine Republic.

  11. 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.

    1. avatar Brian says:

      Plus it’s clearly a parody and I’d think protected under fair use.

  12. avatar PeterC says:

    They couldn’t use the Venus de Milo because she is unarmed.

    1. avatar PavePusher says:


    2. avatar John L. says:

      But that’s perfect! She’s arm-lite!

      1. avatar Avid Reader says:

        Groan. . .

  13. avatar Paul G. says:

    .50 BMG beats a sling and stones every day, it’s a true giant killer!!

  14. avatar Red Sox says:

    and his genitals exposed offends nobody (?)

    1. avatar Rokurota says:


      1. avatar John L. says:


        I seem to recall a lot of statues having has fig leaves added, or assorted parts removed, due to changing sensitivities over the years.

    2. avatar mrvco says:

      Maybe only because they are tiny.

      1. avatar Gene says:

        Probably because he’s scared out of his gourd at Goliath.

        Wouldn’t you shrink, too, if faced against a dude with quite a reputation with just a sling?

      2. avatar Salty Bear says:

        Well, it sounds like he needed that .50 with the compensator affixed then, doesn’t it? =P

        1. avatar mrvco says:

          Haha… Bingo!!!

      3. avatar ropingdown says:

        In classical sculpture male genitals were shaped to classical proportions and sized to the overall size of the stature. It is apparent that to the ancient world big balls meant more than a lengthy dong.

      4. avatar Liberty2Alpha says:

        “Women know about shrinkage.”

  15. avatar Have Blue says:

    My favorite part was certain news outlets referring to the AR-50 as a “bolt action assault rifle”.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

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

  16. avatar Salvatore says:

    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.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      It’s Europe. They’ve been trending in that direction for coming up on 70 years.

    2. avatar Guy says:

      You’re being pretty generous with the word ‘male’ there.

  17. avatar lolinski says:

    I don’t understand what is illegal about it? Any attorneys care to elaborate?

    1. avatar Chris. says:

      Not a lawyer – but: Violates Italian copyright law. (or so they claim).

      1. avatar Gene says:

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

        1. avatar Paul G. says:

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

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      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.

  18. avatar John in Ohio says:

    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.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      I wonder what his reaction was over the Gummi de Milo….

      1. avatar Paul G. says:

        I wonder how he feels about all the “Statues of Liberty” hawking income tax services.

    2. avatar joelt_1 says:

      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.

  19. avatar AW1Ed says:

    The same Italians who jailed some scientists for failing to predict an earthquake? Sounds about right.

    1. avatar mrvco says:

      I doubt this would be an issue if it were an Italian-made assault action bolt rifle.

  20. avatar PeterC says:

    Michelangelo’s David is uncircumcized. Ponder that.

    1. avatar the ruester says:

      White Jesus does not see the humor in that. 😉

  21. avatar Fuque says:

    Bet they wouldnt have a problem if he was holding a Benelli.

  22. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    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.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

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

  23. avatar Maineuh says:

    I prefer to call him “Dave.”

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Dave’s not here.

  24. avatar BLAMMO says:

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

    1. avatar Rich Grise says:

      “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.

  25. avatar IllinoisShooter says:

    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.

  26. avatar DrVino says:

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

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      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.

      1. avatar Claudio says:

        “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?

  27. avatar Hannibal says:

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

  28. avatar Javier says:

    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.

    1. avatar mrvco says:

      It’s a New Testament thing “And they shall stitch their slings into thongs…”.

  29. avatar Ralph says:

    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.”

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      Or “Well EXCUUUUUUSE ME.”

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      +1000 Ralph! ROTFL

  30. avatar jwm says:

    Much ado about not a phucking thing.

  31. avatar Alpo says:

    “This is my rifle, this is my gun…”

  32. avatar Anonymous says:

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

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

  33. avatar Raul Ybarra says:

    Actually, I thought the Italians were upset because they added a fig leaf to the ad.

  34. avatar Claudio says:

    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.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email