Tokion magazine September/October 2000
Manufacturing Dissent by Shepard Fairey
Why would anyone want to enter a profession that is dangerous, does not pay that well,a and whose members are generally hated by anyone who likes to have a good time and isn’t given the privilege of immunity by working for some division of the government? Could it be the brainwashing about noble professions we all were subjected to from age five on? You know…firemen save people from fires, the army protects our sacred land from the Commie red tide (never mind that we stole it from the Native Americans), and policemen protect us from all the “evil” people in our cities. When I was growing up I never thought that I would be one of those “evil” people. However, I have learned since I began questioning some of what society is about that the powers that be and society at large don’t like the status quo to be scrutinized, and anyone that would do so must be “evil” and un-American.
Here’s were the police come in: The cops are paid to eradicate all things “evil” and un-American, they’re on the prowl, search and destroy all “evil”, large or small. Everyone has to find meaning in their lives to justify how they spend their days and make their living. The cops generally think they are doing the world a service by keeping people in line, …that’s the problem. To the police, everyone is a potential criminal, they have a lonely, skewed perspective that can only be reinforced and perpetuated by their insulated and isolated peer support group of other cops.
Have you ever been sitting at a light next to a cop and noticed that they are looking at you hard? What are they doing? Are they are hoping that you’ll look shaken by their glare so they can pull you over to check your registration and insurance maybe talk to you to see if you have alcohol induced slurred speech or beer breath. I know I feel nervous under the double barreled stare: maybe it’s because I usually have some poster bombing materials in my trunk and have been on a covert mission in the not so distant past. Whatever the reason, the cop stare is creepy, an “evil” kind of creepy.
Tension about the cops tends to encourage hostility between cops and citizens. Every now and then though, a situation comes up that temporarily pulls down the barriers that different kinds of people use to separate themselves from each other. The image on this page is composed from a real photo. The story goes like this: My friend Dave gets pulled over in the crosswalk being unmarked and Dave of course getting the ticket from the uncompromising cop anyway(gotta fill those to have to endure the cops charade of justice then the least the officer can do is have his picture taken holding up every ones most/least favorite dead wrestler icon. mind you, the same dead wrestler icon that is illegally (subjective) posted all over the city of L.A. To request this dual portrait was a brazen move on Lance’s part that could potentially aggravate the situation. Here is the beautiful part; when the cop that is so used to hostility from members of the public, especially those he has just harassed, is greeted by Lance with a friendly “What up player? can we grab a picture of you holding this sticker?” he is so flattered by the seemingly earnest positive attention, that his callous exterior melts away and he graciously excepts portrait offer. For a brief shinning moment comp and villain are friends. L.A.P.D. got their ticket and the posse got the perfect ironic police endorsement you couldn’t fake in Photoshop. I guess it is important to recognize that everyone likes positive attention, even programmed cops. Giving a little love may not get you out of a ticket but if it gets you a photo of a seemingly impossible scenario you’re not getting off half bad.