The Obama Upset

It’s been a season of upsets. First we were stunned to see massive favorite Roger Federer fully dismantled by Novak Djokovich (who?) in the Aussie Open. Then the “unbeatable” Patriots lose to an unlikely Giants team in a thriller of a Super Bowl. And this Tuesday, Barack might just upset Hillary and get a whole lot closer to being president. Or not.

When it comes down to it, there seems to be little more than a hair’s difference between the two on policy. Sure, we might trust Hillary more on health care because of her work as first lady, and she’s certainly amassed an impressive amount of Hill savvy over the years, but it also gives her that “part of the problem” establishment glow.

If Clinton’s got the inside angle, Obama has claimed the grassroots. It’s telling that nearly every New York subway station features a legion of superyoung Obama supporters spreading his message. (Clinton’s are nowhere in sight?) And the past week saw the one-two punch of artists like Will Adams and Shepard Fairey putting people in the streets. But where’s the experience?

I’ve been on the fence forever. Where Obama truly inspires, it’s Clinton who’s shown she can execute; and diversity wins either way. Lately, though, I’ve come to think we need to dream again. In this age of intensely uninspiring government, we need someone who can make us believe in the executive once more — and remind us of the bigger things. If the past is any guide, that person sure looks like Barack Obama. Let’s hope, then, for yet another upset today.

We previously wrote about Obama in The Last Black Senator and Holidays in Cambodia.

Update: Hey, split down the middle is good, too. :-)

images via obey

6 Responses to “The Obama Upset”


  1. 1 David Simon

    I’ve seen some pretty thorough criticisms of Shephard Fairey as a plagarist. Are you sure you want to be spreading his name and work around?

  2. 2 Jason

    Interesting article, David. I had seen it in passing before but I must admit I didn’t read it in detail until now. I particularly appreciate the discussion of how Fairey is different from Warhol and Lichtenstein. I suppose Fairey really is testing the line between an artist’s right to appropriate and full-on theft. Perhaps part of it comes from his early work as a graffiti artist — appropriating imagery from others and turning it on its head. But when you start making money on that work things change. I imagine this will only become more of an issue as graffiti becomes ever more mainstream (see Banksy’s big sales). As for Fairey, I’d love to hear him respond to Mark’s critique or, at the very least, do a better job of giving credit to his sources.

  3. 3 David Simon

    Yeah, that’s a good line to draw; being counter-culture is one thing, but that defense no longer works once the artist stops fighting the Man and starts becoming him (complete with trademarked t-shirt line!)

    The thing is, I like Fairey’s style. In particular, I really like that Obama poster. By itself, it’s defensible as something that doesn’t have to be explicitly credited. Obama’s a recognizable figure, and it’s not as though Fairey’s trying to hide the fact that he just traced a photo. Same applies, at least to some degree, to his use of the Angela Davis photo, and a couple others…

    But, in the context of the “oops, you got me, my bad, ever so sorry, won’t happen again wink wink” stuff Fairey pulls over and over… It rubs me the wrong way. I don’t want to support Fairey even when he’s in turn supporting someone I support.

    Thanks for the link to the stuff about Banksy. He’s in kind of a similar situation, but to me it seems like he’s handling it with a lot more grace than Fairey. Although he’s suddenly raking in the dough, his appropriations still seem to be totally on-the-level (either so mainstream as to be obvious, or directly attributed, i.e. with the middle-finger guy being on the original painting itself).

    Bonus points for doing tribute pieces to his critics (Ozone’s Angel, thanks Wikipedia). More bonus points for not trying to sell t-shirts.

  4. 4 David Simon

    Bah, didn’t close my end tag properly.

  5. 5 Jason

    Yeah, unfortunately it doesn’t sound like Fairey has the greatest attitude. (It bums me out particularly because one of my favorite galleries just hosted a huge Fairey show.) I mean the best known artists are also great at self promotion but there’s a point at which it becomes obnoxious. You’re right, Banksy does seem a bit more on the level about things. Sometimes he even seems to parody himself.

    P.S.: Fixed your tag. :-)

  6. 6 Diane Pearce Votes for Obama Again

    Just wanted to say that I am working at a big Pharmaceutical company in Clayton NC and I support Barack Obama with all my being. I encourage all my friends and colleagues to vote for Obama in 2012!! I LOVE YOU OBAMA

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