Hope: An Interesting Pearl Jam, Obama, Helms, Shepard Fairey Mashup

by John Reynolds on January 21, 2010

Hope, by Shepard Fairey

Hope, by Shepard Fairey

There was an interesting article in the LA Times Blog today about Shepard Fairey, a L.A.-based political street artist who created the now famous “HOPE” poster about Barack Obama. The focus on that poster details its origins in a previously available photograph of Obama from the Associated Press.

The article goes on to say:

“When someone in the audience brought up Fairey’s ongoing legal battle with the Associated Press over his appropriation of an AP photo as a template for his landmark “Hope” poster supporting Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Conal jumped in with a long anecdote about a nervous moment he had with the AP in 1996 on account of his unauthorized use of a photograph of Ronald Reagan in the background of “Little White Lies,” an artwork Pearl Jam commissioned him to do when the band was putting in its two cents against the re-election of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).

This rattled some synapses in my brain and I remembered we covered this artwork in our Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt (April 2003) article on Pearl Jam T-shirts (pictured below).

Little White Lies

Little White Lies

As mentioned in our article: “The “Little White Lies” shirt was made to commemorate the “Don’t Re-elect Jesse Helms” Pearl Jam concert on October 4, 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The infamously racist, anti-Choice, anti-arts Republican Helms was running for yet another term as a North Carolina senator. He’d been in the senate since 1972 and he was re-elected in the November elections that year.”

The image is a little small but reads:


  1. FAMILY VALUES: The Family That Prays Together Stays Together
  2. RACISM: It’s Just Business As Usual
  3. GUN CONTROL: Guns Don’t Kill People – People Kill
  4. SEX EDUCATION: No Sex is Good Sex. (Yeah, Right)
  5. CENSORSHIP: “Freedom of Expression” is for People Who Look and Think Exactly Like Him. (Yuck.)
  6. DESEGREGATION: “… We’re Free, White and 21, as We Say in North Carolina”, New York Times, 19XX

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

Leave a Comment