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Osokwe Tychicus Vasquez
Krystal M. Harris,
A documentary profiling the life and work of artist Shepard Fairey, following his roots in punk rock and skateboarding to his creation of the iconic Obama HOPE poster and the controversy that surrounds it.
Obey Giant is a fascinating documentary chronicling the creative life and output of Shepard Fairey. For years, I never understood what all of those stickers on lightpoles were about. Turns out that they were ¨about¨ nothing! Fairey transformed Andre the Giant into a huge cultural icon with no content, just as he later helped to transform Barack Obama into a huge cultural icon, who certainly seemed from his image and speeches to be full of promise for Hope & Change. Many voters, like Fairey, cried tears of joy upon Obama´s election in 2008.
The entire story of Fairey´s life is conveyed through this well-made film, including his own apparent failure to recognize how very much he ended up contributing to Barack Obama´s election. Obama never delivered on his promises of Hope & Change, but Fairey was fairly well consumed during the eight-year period of Obama´s presidency with legal troubles over the photo he used to make the now famous poster which helped to propel Obama to his in some ways surprising victory in 2008 as the first black president of the United States.
My impression is that if Shepard Fairey had not been fighting such an overwhelming battle for his own liberty with the police and court system, and above all with the Associated Press (whose photo he used for the poster), he might have realized that Obama was actually droning to death innocent people in Third World countries. People who posed no threat to the people of the United States. Obama bailed out the banks rather than helping the people fleeced by them (many of whom are now homeless), and he chose to overlook the torture of the previous administration. He also never closed Guantánamo Bay prison, which was one of his most-rehearsed campaign promises. Perhaps worst of all, Obama effectively destroyed the country of Libya (where, irony of all ironies, black people are now sold in slave markets). Instead of weighing in critically on all of this, Fairey retained his sunny view of Obama and went on to create posters in the post-Obama era denouncing the new president (Trump) and in support of the women´s march, etc.
Shepard Fairey is obviously a smart and thoughtful fellow. I hope that he looks more closely at the neoliberal nightmare to which he unwittingly contributed by propelling Obama to popular success. Sad to say, but the healthcare of hardworking middle class people was effectively destroyed by Obamacare, a redistribution of their wealth both up (to corporate bigwigs) and down (to poor people now patients for life on psychotropes, thanks to a gigantic BigPharma scam with the aim of medicating everyone). (As an aside, I should perhaps add here that, as someone who voted for Obama--twice, I am fully entitled to criticize his presidency without being simplemindedly denounced as a racist.) Obama turned out to be, in a word: a fraud.
In addition to all of the political interest, this film also raises intriguing aesthetic and profound philosophical questions, such as: What is art? Do people have the right to express their artistic vision wherever they want? Is graffiti art or vandalism?
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