It came at night: a post on the
Facebook group further damaged the already tenuous-at-best credibility and/or helpfulness of the page by taking issue with an utterly harmless artwork featuring a punk-rock rat hugging a faceless mutant pal—it's one of those things where visitors can stick their face in for a photo—and seemingly attempted (and failed) to call into question the content of the piece.
Most often located inside Meow Wolf's vintage video arcade dubbed Wiggy's Plasma-Plex, the rat, who reportedly goes by Plotzo, looks like this:
The original poster, a Santa Fean named Audrey Trujhero who may have ties to local group Santa Fe Power based on sleuthing from other posters on the thread, posted the image of Plotzo on the Santa Fe Bulletin Board and asked, "Does anyone else find this image disturbing?" Early commenters took no issue, commenting, "Why? It's a drawing, what's offensive about that?" and "Maybe you shouldn't look at it?" Trujhero persevered, however, pointing out the knife in Plotzo's hand as threatening to the faceless mutant beside him as well as the triangular shape on Plotzo's belt buckle and querying, "...WTF? Pizzagate reference?"
The following barf emojis from one user were apt, indeed.
Other commenters pointed out the often uncomfortable or controversial nature of art itself. "It's art...if it makes you feel something it was done right," said one user.
"Illustrations/cartoons like this can bring about dialogue, discussion, even arguments. Good. That's one of the beautiful mysterious ways art can function," said another.
SFR spoke with the artist behind the piece, who told us it was created for the 2016 Halloween season and subsequently kept because it proved popular. "Plotzo works for Wiggy in Wiggy's Plasma Plex and Wiggy is an absent slum lord in a moribund section of an alternate dimensional futuristic ... mall," the artist, Benji Geary, tells SFR. "[It is] Definitely an homage to late-'80s/early '90s commercial archetypes like Bebop or Rocksteady from Teeange Mutant Ninja Turtles, or a jankier version of Chuck E Cheese—the kind of freak you'd imagine hanging out in a retro-future cyberpunk mall arcade—the likes of which was marketed to kids in that era, but is now nostalgic to us, and intergenerational as the unremembered generalized concept of what 'punk' was."
Geary goes on, laughing, to describe the truth behind the knife and the belt buckle's relationship to the completely mythical Pizzagate: "That's a stretch, man! While Plotzo has tried marketing his own personal pan pizzas, The belt buckle is just straight up run of the mill '80s shapes," he says. As for the knife, it's not even a knife. "I mean, that's where everybody's wrong," he says. "It's actually a turkey baster-like object that has a vital serum inside, necessary to keep genetic manipulation body-rejection at bay, it has to be injected—Plotzo is helping his friend; they sure do look like knives, though."
So there you have it: Innocent artwork is read into too deep, the tragic absurdity of Facebook takes over.
UPDATE: SFR also spoke with Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek, who tells us he believes the Santa Fe Power group is behind the online jab. "I think it's politically motivated," Kadlubek says. "It’s a continuation of the Santa Fe Power movement that is supporting [councilor] Ron Trujillo for mayor, and they target me and they target Meow Wolf because of our support and ties with mayor Gonzales and Councilor Signe Lindell—it’s silly."
SFR has reached out to the original poster as well, but we've yet to hear back. We'll update the story if and when we do.