Monday, April 15, 2013
Obey the Giant - The Story of Shepard Fairey
OBEY THE GIANT - The Story of Shepard Fairey from Julian Marshall on Vimeo.
A new 'movie' has been released entitled 'Obey the Giant - The Story of Shepard Fairey'. We put 'movie' in quotation marks because it only 20 mins long, which makes more of a video than a movie. This seems worth mentioning because the film itself is unusual because the footage does not portray actual interviews or scenes or Shepard, rather, there is an actor other than Shepard Fairey playing his role. It is fictionalized but based-on-a-true-story, and comes off like the History Channel take on street art.
The dramatization of the piece is almost humorous, as street art is presented as nothing more than a means to get famous. This movie will likely do little to help Shepard's reputation as a sell-out. You can't help but root for the guy cast as Shep as he is presented as the outcast rebel hero, yet the portrayal of the film makes it seem like the sole reason he gets up, or ever did, was just because he "wanted attention". There is no context or content attributed to Fairey's art in the film. The only valid arguments offered for art are shouted down and the final reason Shep says he uses the Andre the Giant image is "because it was on TV and I thought it was funny".
In fact, after watching this, and how Shep gets lambasted and threatened by local Mayor Buddy Cianci, it is surprising that Cianci hasn't played a larger role in Shepard's art.
Our final review is that speaking as someone involved in the street art scene, the fictionalized Obey the Giant film cheapens and tokenizes the genre. However, for those completely outside the street art world, this film might be an entertaining introduction, although in doing so it also presents a shallow and short sighted welcome to what street art is. After all, according to this movie, all it takes is random image from TV and if you plaster it around the city enough you will get straight A's, get the bad guy's daughter as your girl and get famous. Its like the Brainwash method diluted. Check it out, and see what you think. We feel it is a well produced film that sells street art down a shallow river, and the fictionalized documentary shooting style always seems strange.