Artist Shepard Fairey recently released an illustration made to show his support for Occupy Wall Street, with the tag line “Mr. President, We Hope You’re On Our Side.” Blending the image of the creepy-yet-cool Guy Fawkes “Anonymous” mask with his famous image of the Obama 2008 Hope poster, he explained his first version of the image.
Of course, people weren’t happy with it, and they let him know — here’s how that all started:
SHEPARD: “This image represents my support for the Occupy movement, a grassroots movement spawned to stand up against corruption, imbalance of power, and failure of our democracy to represent and help average Americans. On the other hand, as flawed as the system is, I see Obama as a potential ally of the Occupy movement if the energy of the movement is perceived as constructive, not destructive. I still see Obama as the closest thing to “a man on the inside” that we have presently. Obviously, just voting is not enough. We need to use all of our tools to help us achieve our goals and ideals. However, I think idealism and realism need to exist hand in hand. Change is not about one election, one rally, one leader, it is about a constant dedication to progress and a constant push in the right direction. Let’s be the people doing the right thing as outsiders and simultaneously push the insiders to do the right thing for the people.”
It was not completely well received by the OWS crowd. They don’t want to be linked to Obama, they think he’s a Wall Street sellout, etc. You can read the entire exchange here, but here’s a sample of one of the complaints Fairey got:
When you say that you “see Obama as a potential ally of the Occupy movement if the energy of the movement is perceived as constructive, not destructive.” That is a highly offensive and disrespectful comment. Everything we do is designed to be constructive. In the face of repeated police brutality, we have remained non-violent. We use the money that has been donated to us to feed people at our camps that don’t get food otherwise. …Of course the Fox News type outlets are going to work to create a false impression, but why would you feed into their propaganda framing?
As for the design, the fact that you put the 99% inside the Obama O is crossing a sacred line. While it definitely looks cool, whether intended or not, this sends a clear message that Obama is co-opting OWS. Just the fact that you are the person creating the design and using your iconic red, white and blue gives the Obama connection more than enough room to make your pro-Obama statement. Without the 99% being in his O, it would be a fair balance of interests, in my opinion. With the 99% being in his O, this sends a clear message that Obama is attempting to co-opt OWS and creates serious problems for the movement.
Well, it looks like the complaints got Fairey to go back to the drawing board. Here’s the revised image, with “We Are The Hope” as the text (taking out any reference to the Prez) and part of his explanation of the changes:
I know that you and the organizers are very intelligent, dedicated, and engaged. I meant no disrespect to 98% of the 99%. I’m incredibly frustrated too, but evolution, much less “revolution”, scares most people. I want progress to be made! I made a series of images calling out villains and issues… I donate money and art to rootstrikers.org. I want campaign finance reform ASAP. We may disagree on some things. I want to support Occupy as much as I can without undermining its potential to move things in the right direction. I have tons of issues with the two-party system, but I don’t see it being dismantled any time soon. I want reform to happen and I’m trying to look at realistic routes to ideal outcomes. I’m very open to hearing suggestions from you, and I’d also be into sharing this dialogue publicly if you are open to that. I think it could be valuable to people to hear a thoughtful discussion of these issues. Let me know.
Ed note: Shep, you can make some of the people happy some of the time, but not all of the people happy all of the time. It’s good you listened to the criticism — it shows sensitivity to the movement, which is good. (Right?) We hope, for your own sake, you don’t have to do version three. It’s Thanksgiving weekend.
Have a Turducken, and enjoy yourself.
READ MORE: After Conversations with OWS Organizers, Shepard Fairey Releases Revised “Occupy Hope” Design [OWSNews.org]
– Meg Robertson is a digital producer for Dylan Ratigan.