Shepard Fairey: Beyond Hope


Will Wilkinson wants Shepard Fairey to triumph in his current copyright fight over the photo at the basis of his now sadly iconic Obama "Hope" image, but still couldn't help but notice that the artist

went from  absurdist anarchist vandalism, to a lucrative online business uncreatively ripping off other people's designs and selling them as his own, to creating  powerful and effective political propaganda to help arm a comformist virtuoso of establishment institutions with nuclear weapons. From small-scale guerrilla street art to a running dog of the American political establishment in no time flat. How does this happen?….

If arts scenes, blogs, web video, social networking etc. are largely coopted into producing propaganda for major political parties, then widening access to the means of symbolic production will have failed pathetically to achieve its liberatory potential. In fact, it is all the more insidious when well-equipped citizens use their own time, creativity, and resources simply to consolidate the stultifying terms of Americans politics–to voluntarily join the existing powers in manufacturing consent.