Ah, TikTok—the great cultural platform of our time and an inconstant arbiter of good and evil. On the contested social media platform (and preferred political forum of Gen Z), a viral video has surfaced of a woman confronting Brazilian artist Romero Britto at a busy gallery and shattering one of his sculptures in front of him as he fumbles to retrieve the work. Shared last week with hashtags such as #moodflip and #karen—a pejorative term used in the US to describe a white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others—the video has received nearly three million views. Yet some users called the act “well-deserved” and said that they “had no choice but to stan” but the woman.
The woman in the video, identified as the owner of the Spanish restaurant Tapelia in Miami Beach, is telling the artist off for alleged bad behaviour in her restaurant. She is seen telling a perplexed Britto to “never go to my restaurant or offend my staff again” before smashing Big Apple, a porcelain piece she was once given by her husband that sells for around $5,000.
In a since-deleted video posted on Tapelia’s Instagram page, the woman claims the artist “asked for a discount, asked staff to turn off the music, asked staff not to speak [and] humiliated them”, she says. She says that she thought the artist, whose gallery is across from her restaurant, was “an admirable man, but I was wrong”.
In a statement to Estadão, the artist explains that the video dates to 2017 and that he “never intended to disrespect anyone”. He adds: “The internet is often unfair and people are not concerned with the truth. They like confusion, drama, negativity and to judge without analysing the facts. I will continue my mission to bring joy to the world, which has never needed more love, happiness, hope and optimism.” The artist later shared a picture on his Instagram page holding a work lettered “Fake News”.
Britto is a known supporter of controversial Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and presented the president a portrait during a studio visit in January, prompting many fans of his work to deem him #cancelled well before the video surfaced last week.