Adbusters

Politics For Sale

After the iconic success of his Obama poster, Shepard Fairey continues to do what he does best: selling out.

I've never been a fan of Shepard Fairey's work. Far from the rebellious, meta-critique of consumer culture that it is purported to be, Fairey's art strikes me as contrived, unoriginal and uninspiring. But when Fairey created the now iconic image of Obama for his presidential campaign, I was forced to briefly reconsider my opinion of him as an artist. Now, just days after the inauguration, as the country basks in the light of cultural transcendence, Fairey is exploiting whatever political cachet he may have built with the Obama poster for the purpose of championing mindless consumerism.

Now I remember why I don't like his work.

Fairey has partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue to create a Constructivist-inspired marketing campaign for the high-end retailer's Spring season. Appropriating the style of one of his favorite go-to artists, Alexander Rodchenko, Fairey is doing what he does best – recycling politically-charged imagery in a way that is completely devoid of meaning. Borrowing from the aesthetic of 20th century workers' rights movements, Fairey's designs depict models with raised fists "arming themselves" with designer handbags. "Want It!" scream shopping bags in the same bold, graphic style that artists emerging from the Russian Revolution used to encourage the overthrow of the old social order.

"Some people might think [this campaign] could be making fun of what's going on right now," Fairey told the New York Times. "But I think most people are sophisticated enough to realize it's a way of grabbing attention. It's commerce. I don't think there is really any political statement embedded in this." What Fairey is either unable or unwilling to acknowledge is that the overtly political feel of the Saks campaign serves to mock and undercut the genuine desire for change inspired by the Obama campaign.

In urging a newly introspective populace to WANT, to NEED and to BUY, Fairey is helping to promote the same bullshit mindset that got us into our current mess – the very thing that we finally have a real opportunity to overthrow. He couldn't have chosen a more cynical project.

Adbusters 111 Cover

On Newsstands December 3

At last we’re in Winter. It’s the year 2047. A worn scrapbook from the future arrives in your lap. It offers a stunning global vision, a warning to the next generations, a repository of practical wisdom, and an invaluable roadmap which you need to navigate the dark times, and the opportunities, which lie ahead.

Subscribe to Adbusters Magazine

50 comments on the article “Politics For Sale”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 50

Page 4 of 5

I Get Money

Yes, every politician is a product. Yes, Obama is no different. But what separates Obama from others is that he wasn't sold as a politician. He was sold under as anti-establishment (aka the anti-product). It was a very appealing and manipulative ad campaign precisely because it played on people's emotional need for change (much in the same way that Bush played on people's emotional need for safety). Obama spent $745 million on his presidential campaign. That's more than the combined total of what Kerry and Bush spent on their 2004 ad campaign. The big concern is that Obama is going to use the image that was built to continue some destructive policies (eg., bomb Afghanistan, bomb Pakistan, support major corporations) without receiving any criticism. I don't believe it's any coincidence that Farley would move from Obama to Saks Fifth.

I Get Money

Yes, every politician is a product. Yes, Obama is no different. But what separates Obama from others is that he wasn't sold as a politician. He was sold under as anti-establishment (aka the anti-product). It was a very appealing and manipulative ad campaign precisely because it played on people's emotional need for change (much in the same way that Bush played on people's emotional need for safety). Obama spent $745 million on his presidential campaign. That's more than the combined total of what Kerry and Bush spent on their 2004 ad campaign. The big concern is that Obama is going to use the image that was built to continue some destructive policies (eg., bomb Afghanistan, bomb Pakistan, support major corporations) without receiving any criticism. I don't believe it's any coincidence that Farley would move from Obama to Saks Fifth.

Back-T-Real.culture

Wow, of all the totally relivant things that could be written about, you picked this rurse commercial. Cheers...

Back-T-Real.culture

Wow, of all the totally relivant things that could be written about, you picked this rurse commercial. Cheers...

kat [a] lyst

I feel that the artist here was purely justified in his campaign. Saks Fifth Avenue observed as his marketing campaign for "change" was successful. So they hired him in HOPE that he will help them CHANGE their product image and help sell more. That folks is basic business and until we no longer need money, we can't complain. We all have everyday jobs, and we all like raises. And if you think about what class of people shop on Saks (Not Obama followers that's for sure), I'm sure they won't find humor in this art. I really think it will fail ultimately as a campaign. OVER EXPLOITATION of a similar idea. Plus it is a grassroots campaign and Saks is in no way, shape, or form, grassroots. and to Anonymous: The Zeitgeist movement was not even mentioned until you brought it up. "An Earthling" mentioned The Venus Project. Now if you've watched both of the movies you'll know that the second one contained The Venus Project at the end. So you watched the movie, if not both all the way through. "all anyone needs to disclaim that movement is a brain and 8 minutes alone with the tacky and dubious eponymous film."(There are 2) Why are you here? Are you a hopeful person? Both of those films are way longer than 8 min. Or did you just fast forward to the "GOOD" parts? So tell me, do you have a brain as well? I find it EXTREMELY hypocritical that you would watch the whole film, yet say it was tacky and dubious. And I say this because the film is on the internet and you have control of what's in front of you. That's just me though. No one wants an apocalypse. No one wants armed destruction. What the film says, is that if something doesn't happen soon, those events will happen and we will be forced to make changes. Research this better before you DEBUNK any of it's messages.

kat [a] lyst

I feel that the artist here was purely justified in his campaign. Saks Fifth Avenue observed as his marketing campaign for "change" was successful. So they hired him in HOPE that he will help them CHANGE their product image and help sell more. That folks is basic business and until we no longer need money, we can't complain. We all have everyday jobs, and we all like raises. And if you think about what class of people shop on Saks (Not Obama followers that's for sure), I'm sure they won't find humor in this art. I really think it will fail ultimately as a campaign. OVER EXPLOITATION of a similar idea. Plus it is a grassroots campaign and Saks is in no way, shape, or form, grassroots. and to Anonymous: The Zeitgeist movement was not even mentioned until you brought it up. "An Earthling" mentioned The Venus Project. Now if you've watched both of the movies you'll know that the second one contained The Venus Project at the end. So you watched the movie, if not both all the way through. "all anyone needs to disclaim that movement is a brain and 8 minutes alone with the tacky and dubious eponymous film."(There are 2) Why are you here? Are you a hopeful person? Both of those films are way longer than 8 min. Or did you just fast forward to the "GOOD" parts? So tell me, do you have a brain as well? I find it EXTREMELY hypocritical that you would watch the whole film, yet say it was tacky and dubious. And I say this because the film is on the internet and you have control of what's in front of you. That's just me though. No one wants an apocalypse. No one wants armed destruction. What the film says, is that if something doesn't happen soon, those events will happen and we will be forced to make changes. Research this better before you DEBUNK any of it's messages.

Anonymous

Thank you for writing this! Shepard Fairey has been making more than a buck for quite some time and this is nothing new. He has his own advertising firm that does traditional advertising as well as movie posters - and oh yeah he's an artist, and let me just say that before the Obama campaign foreign political leaders had commissioned Fairey to do their portraits so this ain't nothing new. I completely agree with the author of this article and love her for writing it. I say that because Fairey came out as an anti-establishment "street artist" and through the messages in his work tries to portray that image, even though he is just another ad-man raking in the dough for anyone who can pay his price.

Anonymous

Thank you for writing this! Shepard Fairey has been making more than a buck for quite some time and this is nothing new. He has his own advertising firm that does traditional advertising as well as movie posters - and oh yeah he's an artist, and let me just say that before the Obama campaign foreign political leaders had commissioned Fairey to do their portraits so this ain't nothing new. I completely agree with the author of this article and love her for writing it. I say that because Fairey came out as an anti-establishment "street artist" and through the messages in his work tries to portray that image, even though he is just another ad-man raking in the dough for anyone who can pay his price.

Pages

Add a new comment

Comments are closed.