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Shepard Fairey has 'doubts' about intelligence of Obama Joker artist


Shepard Fairey is all for free speech and creating a political dialogue. But the man who created the instantly recognizable posters for Barack Obama's presidential campaign has some choice words for the anonymous artist who made the Obama Joker artwork.

"I have my doubts about the person's intelligence," Fairey said on the phone from Pittsburgh. "It's not grammatically correct. It would be 'socialist' ... Obama is not Marx. He didn't create socialism."

Semantics aside, "I don't agree with the political content of the poster," Fairey said. "They don't realize that Medicaid is a socialist program." The federal Medicaid program, of course, predates the current administration by several decades.

It won't shock anybody that Fairey, the guy who churned out the artwork that some call "left-wing propaganda," doesn't get behind the idea of Obama being a socialist. But he does think the Joker poster is well done.

"The artwork is great in that it gets a point across really quickly," Fairey said. "The Joker is a sinister, evil character that can't be trusted. And if they want to make that parallel with Obama -- bam."

"A lot of these things are fueled by frustration," Fairey said. "Maybe they're frustrated and don't understand the whole situation."

But who is Fairey to criticize the nefarious Obama poster when he himself is responsible for numerous artworks that ...

Shepard-fairey ... painted President Bush as the villain? "My frustration with Bush was fueled by a very clear understanding of what's going on," he asserted.

Regardless, Fairey is not proud of his popular piece that portrayed Bush as a vampire. "I think that it was a very one-dimensional presentation," he said.

Maybe one day the Joker artist will come to regret his notorious poster too. But we may never know. We're left with no leads as to who made the poster. Even Fairey's circle of well-connected street artists is still guessing. If it's an established artist, he did pretty well to cover his tracks.

"Most artists get to the point where they would like people to recognize their work by some sort of signature style," Fairey said. "Either, it's done by an artist who doesn't want people to know who they are, or it's not done by an artist."

Since it has no discernible style, it could just as easily be the work of a kid with a pirated copy of Photoshop or a middle-aged guy looking to spread a message. The latter would be especially interesting because the political nature of graffiti and guerrilla posters tend to skew to the left.

"It could be possible that a right-winger finally got hip to the idea that street art can get people's attention and be a valuable way to express a point of view," Fairey said.

- Shepard Fairey doesn't think Obama is a socialist
- Shepard Fairey coverage in our Arts blog, Culture Monster
- A small photo gallery featuring some of the better pieces created by Shepard Fairey
- Shepard Fairey pleads guilty to vandalism, gets two years probation
- An Indian Shepard Fairey for an iconic Barack Obama?

-- Mark Milian

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Photos: Top, the Obama Joker poster. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images. Shepard Fairey with his Obama poster. Credit: Associated Press.


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We published an article about the posters back in April in Bedlam Magazine and updated it a few days ago with new information about the origin of the image (photoshopped from a Time Magazine cover by a Chicago student). More at bedlammagazine.com

Wow, you actually linked TO ANOTHER BLOG in this piece! So very rare in LA Times blogs.

Shepard Fairey is a designer who's good with Photoshop. Hmm, not many of them around. He stole the photo of Obama from that AP photographer, which for some reason you didn't mention in this article. They settled, I think, but it was still a valid lawsuit.

This is wrong for so many reasons. Fairey is pretentious and uneducated himself. I don't think the poster are calling Obama socialism, but saying he represents socialism. He's pulling at strings to find something wrong with the image because he is still stuck on the Obama band wagon.

Nowhere does it say that the author of the poster supports Medicaid either. Just because you're against Obamas socialist health care plan doesn't mean you're for Medicaid, which is already a done deal. No use fighting that battle now.

I think its very clear here Fairey is the one who doesn't understand the whole situation. He doesn't have any idea what this health care plan will do to our taxes and our country. Our government couldn't handle katrina. Medicaid isn't doing too great either. We pay most of our income in taxes and he thinks its a good idea to give them more? Obamas already proven himself a liar, why should we believe anything he says?!

Fairey also fails to see a bigger truth here... Bush and Obama aren't all that different. Obama is carrying on a lot of Bush's failed policies. The faces change but thats about it.

so, why do I care? - the Times continues it's slide into complete irrelevancy

The argument he makes against the Obama Socialism poster is quite flimsy. Typical liberal artist double speak. I mean really the best you can come up with is Grammar? LMAO Socialism/Socialist. Give me a break. And due to the fact that other Admins have gone past the boundaries of the Constitution we should not be frustrated that the country is spinning out of control and the previous Socialistic programs are growing exponentially under this Admin?

The joke is on all who voted for Obama!!!!

Ah, so Fairey has a clear understanding of Obama that anyone who doesn't share his opinion can't possibly have.

If that tight circle of street artists were to google "Obama Joker" they just might find the original artist.


Google. Who would have guessed?

Um, *this* fellow sounds dumb. Within three paragraphs, only two of which have quotes from Fairey, he seems... well, on drugs? He's critical of the other artist because "they don't realize that Medicaid is a socialist program." Mr. Fairey, you can tell that from simply looking at this poster? You mean someone can't suggest that Obama is for socialism (yes, use of the word 'socialism' on the poster makes sense, too) because Medicaid is a socialist program? Why, that's... brilliant? The two thoughts are completely unrelated, yet Mr. Fairey uses that kind of 'logic' to presume to know anything about the other artists' intelligence? Laughable.

And by the way, isn't Fairey the guy who's gotten into trouble for unauthorized use of someone else's photography/art? Why no mention of that?

Of the two options you mention for the poster's origin (kid or middle age guy), the latter is more likely. I saw someone putting up the poster on a pole at the corner of Vanowen and Canoga eight days ago. Since I only saw him from behind as I a drove by, I would not recognize him again. He looked like an adult to me. Since the poster has been called a racist attack, it is worth mentioning that the man I saw was black.

"I have my doubts about the person's intelligence... It's not grammatically correct. It would be 'socialist' ... Obama is not Marx. He didn't create socialism."

First off, I have my own doubts about Fairey's pseudo-intellectual smarts, stemming as much from the fact that he smugly makes inferences about others' intelligence from simple political posters as from his hypocritical and absurd grammatical insights.

Who's the idiot? Fairey's work, by his own standard, is not "gramatically correct." Obama isn't hope, he didn't create hope etc.

The joker poster attempts to portray Obama as standing for socialism, just as Fairey equates him with hope.

An artist claiming a "very clear understanding of what's going on"? Laughable. I suppose Fairey's got an econ or engineering degree and just decided to say "Oh well" and waste his days on Paint Shop Pro? Maybe he did his 4 years with a deployment or two and then thought he'd take his hard-earned life experience to the canvas to teach others? No? What is the basis for this "very clear understanding" of the world then? Fairey is a coddled brat whose condescension is enabled by spoiled naivety and encouraged by an ever-weaker media establishment. He is more symbolic than his poster: Fairey represents so many icons of the left, in that he has no substance to support the credibility undeservedly extended to his empty opinions. His fifteen minutes are up. Socialism is indeed looming - quit wasting print on this joker, and devote more to the one in the White House.

"It could be possible that a right-winger finally got hip to the idea that street art can get people's attention and be a valuable way to express a point of view," Fairey said.''''

hahaha, this is better than the comic strips today. thisuy is so full of himself and blinded by his own subversion to boot.

I'd like to see a poster of Obama as Two-Face.

I think that character is more representative of what is being said and done in the White House.

The man calls himself an "artist" when his main shtick is rehashing art originally created buy communist propaganda artists who worked under the thumb of oppressive tyranny. I can certainly fathom where he would be predisposed to miss the obvious parallels between the narcissistic statist in chief and former fascist totalitarian governments but claiming others somehow misunderstand exponential growth of government power, expense and pervasiveness is dishonest at best.
America was unique in the world in that it allowed before unseen levels of individual responsibility and freedom (you can not retain one while losing the other) while restricting the power and reach of it's government. Sadly thanks to years of misguided progressive collectivists those days are fading fast as we slide into the forced mediocrity of an oppressive nanny state.
The good news is that many productive Americans are waking up and seeing around the MSM propaganda only to realize that "some men just want to watch the world burn", that Obama is not what they thought he was and he doesn't have Americas best interest in mind.
If you haven't seen the movie this clip helps explain the joker connection in part. youtube...com/watch?v=aM47rdMzZa0

Farley is not grammatically correct either. It would be 'hopeful', or more correctly 'dope' ... Obama is not God. He didn't create hope.

Love the poster... That artist should be commended... Obama supporter = FOOL or Joker

"My frustration with Bush was fueled by a very clear understanding of what's going on," With an asinine quote like that who can deny the smug, elitist, and vainglorious attitude of those on the Left? I mean, they simply know everything and for those little people (the great unwashed) to protest against things they hold dear, well, they most assuredly come from those who are too ignorant to understand complex issues like Mr. Fairey understands them. Must be great to be both brilliant and an as*hole at the same time, huh? Hey, Mr. Fairey, I can run circles around you on the understanding of the issues and still come out on the opposite side of you. Finally, your pathetic slam against the "Joker" poster as 'grammatically incorrect' may be true....but your "Hope" poster is an outright lie (and a heartfelt laugh).

Anyone watch Dark Knight?

The Joker: You have all these rules, and you they'll save you.

Obama on the constitution "I have problems with parts of the constitution.

Un huh the rule of law - American's live under.

It's not that hard to figure out if you watched the movie...

I like the alternate caption for the poster "why so socialist" Now that's funny.

By the way I am beginning to agree with the Joker. Rules are for suckers. Look what the progressives have done to California, if you want to see what they have planned for the rest of the country. California bellwether state.

Bureaucrats are demanding that taxes be paid on those IOUs they sent out but didn't make good. This is what Madness looks like.

The poster makes perfect sense:
Joker steals someone else's $ then kills all the other thieves who know he hired them. Problem: foreign interest steals rest of mob's money (all of it)
Joker tells mob he'll kill Batman for half the rest of their money, then waits for someone else with guts (Batman) to nab the foreign guy (address the problem)
Joker nabs the guy Batman nabbed (co-opts the problem for his own agenda)
Joker steals the rest of someone else's money (to fund his agenda, to justify and glorify his reason for being)
Joker then burns someone else's money before the job is done (Reason: "I'm only burning my half") then calls TV station to get someone else to kill someone else instead of Batman (since he decided to change the rules - he likes Batman too much). So...destroying money and cities, welching out on promises you made, stoking chaos to justify your reason for being...what better metaphor for a Democrat controlled government?

What a joke... if the joker's title should read "socialist," then his own posters should read "hoper."

If Fairey has trouble understanding the Joker poster, let me help. Although The Joker is clever and well-organized, his mission is chaos and nihilism. Socialism is cleverly constructed and organized, but results in chaos and nihilism for the human soul. Placing Obama in Joker makeup is a symbolic warning of where his policies might be leading us.

Fairey's Obama HOPE poster is 100% emotional and very shallow intellectually. Some guy staring into the distance is supposed to represent the hope of the human race? It's a hackneyed image from the Collectivist period. Leave it on the Che T-shirts where it belongs.

Fairey's grammar critique is flat wrong. The popular posters of Obama used nouns, not adjectives: HOPE. CHANGE. So it IS consistent that a parodist uses a noun, too (SOCIALISM), not an adjective.

Fairey would be more fair and candid simply to say, "I worship Barack Obama, and therefore any poster putting Obama in a negative light is, perforce, bad."

"Obama is not Marx. He didn't create socialism."

He didn't create hope either, genius.

Unintentionally, ironically hilarious. The man who creates a poster identifying Barack Obama with "HOPE" objects to a poster identifying Barack Obama with "SOCIALISM", because ... it's grammatically incorrect to identify a person with a concept.

And to pile absurdity upon hilarity, he then has the chutzpah to be a person with "a very clear understanding of what's going on." The leftist artiste in all his dumb, self-satisfied glory. Well done, LAT.

Sounds like someone is JEALOUS !!!

Awww, poor baby .

Haaa haaa haaaa!

If "Socialism" is grammatically incorrect, why is not "hope"?

I seriously doubt the intelligence of Fairey. Otherwise, his poster would read "hoper," not "hope."

Also, one does not have to create "socialism" to be labeled as one who promotes it. Genius.

And we're all aware of this country's previous steps toward socialism, and we're sick of footing the bill for that as well.

"It's not grammatically correct. It would be 'socialist' ... Obama is not Marx. He didn't create socialism."

Fairey's poster uses the same word tense as the Joker poster (Hope and Socialism), so I guess he's questioning his own intelligence, as well.

Pretentious is the perfect description of liberals/left wingers/Democrats. This "artist" has no argument which is why he is stretching it to "ugh, like, grammatical error, Obama isn't Marx". Imbecile.

I also love how random idiots are interviewed nowadays in the media. As if their opinion matters or they are intelligent enough to share theirs. Lol.

The artist made Obama's photo into a joker because he sees Obama's true heart and soul.

The poster is actually a joke on you who paint such Satanic image on Obama.

Good god this article makes Fairey look like an idiot! The poster author is dumb because he doesn't understand what Obama is doing but Fairey is smart because he did understand what Bush was doing?!? In the world according to Fairey, perhaps.

He comes across as the same small minded tool he always did. And that's without even getting into the issue Ann Althouse pointed out--that Fairey makes exactly the same "mistake" in his Obama poster that he insults the Socialism author for making.

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