This is a story about symbols and how their meaning gets lost when the symbol is not universally understood.

Consider the new sculpture on Wall Street, a 7-foot-tall bronze statue of a gorilla confronting the long-stand Charging Bull sculpture (meant as a Capitalist symbol) now with 10,000 bananas heaped around it.

In parenthesis

Market Watch reports a sign at the site explaining that the bananas “illustrate just how ‘bananas’ Wall Street has become.” But here’s the thing. If you need a sign to present a symbol, you need a different one that doesn’t need explaining.

And here’s another thing. Linking the idiom “go bananas” to the gorilla only works if that’s what they eat. According to Primates Park, an organization protecting the primates kingdom, gorillas feed on “leaves, vegetative materials, and nothing else.” Even monkeys in zoos aren’t fed bananas.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the bananas will be donated to local food banks and community fridges.

Ankit Bhatia, a co-founder of Sapien.Network, the group that installed the gorilla statue, told NBC New York, “A simple gesture of giving a banana builds community. As a society, we need to come together.” A menacing hulk of a gorilla facing off the Charging Bull is an odd vision of kumbaya.

Summon to contest

This isn’t the first time that Another sculpture has challenged charging Bull.

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In 2017 there was Fearless Girl, a sculpture of a defiantly posed child that called for more women in upper management.

But a little girl with feet set wide apart and hands-on her hips were the picture of a moppet refusing to go to bed, not gender diversity in the workplace.

Fearless Girl was moved to the New York Stock Exchange after the Charging Bull sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, complained that the angry-looking imp was installed under cover of night and didn’t’ have permission to be on the street with his sculpture.

NY mayor at the time, Bill Di Blasio, sympathetic to Fearless Girl’s message, arranged for the relocation.

Given that the Fearless Girl message was a rallying cry for gender diversity on Wall Street, a tyke doing the rallying was silly. Underscoring the silliness, a sign that went with the sculpture said, “SHE makes a difference.” Who, the kid? Come on!

I’ll get back to the gorilla statue in a moment. There’s something else to be said about facing off Fearless Girl with Charging Bull that relates to the gorilla statue doing that now.

I’m thinking of the sculpture Lygia and the Bull by Giuseppe Moretti, which depicts a nude female on her back and ropes to a steer. The sculpture was intended for Philadelphia, but circus magnate John Ringling bought it to front his museum in Florida.

Gorilla warfare

Like Lygia and the Bull, Charging Bull is an image of hostility and an unfortunate one for Wall Street. Similarly, the gorilla statue appears hostile. As it turns out, the hostility goes past appearance.

The gorilla sculpture is based on an actual animal called Harambe that lived at a Cincinnati zoo and attacked a child who entered his space in 2016. Shot to death, Harambe is a terrible symbol for a world in need of coming together.