The LA Times reported at 7:29 this evening that Shepard Fairey, the artist associated with the now famous Obama HOPE painting, has admitted that he knowingly attempted to deceive the Associated Press about which photograph he had used as a reference for the painting. As the AP had originally claimed, his piece is a conscious duplicate of the photo by photographer Mannie Garcia.
I wonder, what might be the philosophical implications lurking around the edges of a painting calling for hope that turns out to be a ripoff? Cynicism would be an obvious response -- but my God how tired is that? Hey, I'm a blogger with a snarky, cynical take on things. Wow, yeah, that's new. Maybe they'll even take the names of two people and put them together, too! I just want to pat them on the head and give 'em a cookie.
We've known it since the 5th grade dance where we thought that aquamarine tie with the flat end was really going to kill and instead the kid with the Shaun Cassidy haircut who could throw the football with a perfect spin gets all the eyes: Everyone wants to be noticed. And not everyone is.
The temptation to cross ethical lines, step all over people or just be obnoxious to overcome anonymity -- been there, done that, got the shame to show for it. We call it pride, arrogance, selfishness, OMG SO FRUSTRATING, etc., but look for the baseline and I'd say we're looking at a temptation to hopelessness. The girl with the red hair is never going to notice me if I do things fair and square. I can give up and just go back to letting Lucy pull the ball out... AGAIN (not that I feel a deep and painful emotional connection to Charlie Brown, or have ever been told I resembled him when my head is shaved). Or, I can cut a couple corners and let her know it's actually me who wrote Linus' music -- and I've just given up in another way.
God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting. But there's a pretty awesome pond over here to my right, so dude, what gives?
Hope: awesome -- quite literally; and therefore, not easy.
Jim McDermott, SJ