There has been a tremendous amount of art and music inspired by Barack Obama's message of Hope and Change. Last week I chronicled the story of Shepard Fairey's Obama 'Hope' poster. Today I bring you the latest work from Fairey -- "Vote For Change" viral video postcards. In this post, I also take a look at the story behind two other recently released videos, both inspired by Senator Obama's message.
"Vote For Change" Viral Videos
Shepard Fairey has co-directed a series of "Vote For Change" video postcards as part of a grassroots viral political action campaign. The videos can be found on Fairey's web-site. Thus far, the site features videos from John C. Reilly, Shepard Fairey, OK Go, Angela Shelton, Mark Mothersbaugh, Flea, Nick Jago and HT Heartache.
Shepard Fairey explains the motivation behind the creation of these videos:
"One of the wonderful things about our election process is that no matter who you are or where you live in the United States, if you choose to exercise your right to vote, your opinion matters. A banker's vote carries the same weight as a skateboarder, a farmer or someone who is unemployed. We wanted to remind people that Zulu the Tattoo Artist's future will be just as impacted by the results of this election as Joe the Plumber or Saul the Poet."
Below are three of the videos -- featuring John C. Reilly, Flea and Shepard Fairey. Go to this site to see all of the videos. The videos can easily be emailed to a friend as a video postcard, embedded on a blog or social network site such as Facebook or MySpace, or downloaded to an iPhone or iPod.Click here for more videos from Vote For Change Click here for more videos from Vote For Change Click here for more videos from Vote For Change
Miri Ben-Ari performs Stand With Me
The following video features Grammy award winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari, performing her rendition of the National Anthem. Entitled Stand With Me, this performance is in support of Senator Barack Obama. Supporting this video, and featured in it as well, are Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons and fashion designer Marc Ecko.
Miri Ben-Ari is known as the 'Hip Hop violinist.' Wyclef Jean has called her the "world's greatest violinist" and Kanye West has stated that "Miri Ben-Ari is to Hip-Hop now what Miles Davis was to Jazz back in the day. She's re-inventing a whole new Hip-Hop sound!"
In a statement about the video, artist and co-director Miri Ben-Ari mentioned:
I also spoke with the video's other co-director, Kenzo Hakuta, about how he and Miri linked up to collaborate on this video:
"I wanted to show support to Senator Barack Obama because I believe in him. Senator Obama captures the essence of the 'American Dream.' Coming to America as a new immigrant, poor and without my family helped me to better understand and appreciate the 'American Dream.'
I think a lot of people in my Jewish community have misunderstood or misinterpreted Senator Obama's words in regards to Israel, and therefore they are afraid to show their support. There were also many false rumors. I believe that Senator Obama strongly supports the US-Israel relationship. Israel is America's strongest ally in the Middle East and Senator Obama has committed to its security and foreign assistance that should include both military and economic aid.
I couldn't think of a better musical approach to the video than the 'Star Spangled Banner.' After listening to Jimmy Hendrix's rendition of the 'National Anthem,' I wanted to perform it and represent America while fusing classical and Hip Hop style."
"Miri and I talked about our families and what it meant for us to be American. Thus, I wanted to create something that reflected the sense of urgency that the nation is feeling in the present day and unite Americans of all ages and backgrounds. Myself being a first generation American, and Miri an immigrant, we both felt there was a dire need to address some of our country's most pressing issues and to contribute to Senator Barack Obama's run for President."
Below is an interview I conducted with MC Yogi about his Vote For Hope song/video
Ben Arnon: How long ago did you come up with the idea to do this? How long did it take to create and how did you go about creating it?
MC Yogi: The whole thing really was a grassroots movement that happened on the fly. My co-producer was Robin Livingston, a creative director at a company called Ursa Minor, which is located here in San Rafael. It is sort of this socially-conscious media agency. He co-produced my record Elephant Power which I released on White Swan Records. We grew up together and he and I are both politically active.
We wanted to do something creatively for Obama. We were inspired by the huge outpouring of creative projects that were coming out for Obama, especially by Shepard Fairey's Hope image. That was a huge catalyst for me because, in terms of art, he continues to be one of my greatest inspirations. So we decided to put this song together and we literally recorded this song in about three days. I wrote the lyrics while we were in the studio recording the music. Ursa Minor donated the studio time. Robin and I donated our time.
Then what happened was White Swan Records heard the song and were like "This is amazing. We want to print 10,000 CD's and we can distribute for free to help get out the vote and to help people register." We went to the DNC Convention in Denver and hit the streets -- three of us -- and we literally handed out over 7,000-8,000 CD's.
Ben Arnon: When did you actually record the song?
MC Yogi: We recorded the song about a month or two before the Convention. It took a couple of weeks to print out the CD's. One other cool thing about the song is that White Swan Records also made it available as a free download on their web-site.
Then the story unfolds because we decided to combine our music with visual art. We decided we had to make a video. So I started gathering all of these images. A lot of them I made, some I borrowed from people like Shepard. I compiled all of the images and got together with a guy named James Curtis. He is the guy who animated the whole video. He works for Ursa Minor. He took all of my images, added in the after-effects, animated it and he totally raised it up to a whole new level.
We raised money through grassroots donations. A project like that would normally cost $40K-$50K to do something that high quality with that type of animation. We literally knocked that video out in about a week, knowing how important it was to get that message out. Since then I have literally been flooded with emails from all around the world from people who have enjoyed it.