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Andre the Giant Has a Posse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Andre the Giant has a posse sticker on a stop sign.

Andre the Giant Has a Posse, aka OBEY Giant, is a pataphysical movement, following in the footsteps of Ivan Stang's Church of the SubGenius and populist WWII icon Kilroy Was Here, that was originally conceived as a street art campaign, and is based on an original design by Frank Shepard Fairey and at least one other unidentified person while students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), 1989, and was at the time declared to be "an experiment in Phenomenology."

Fairey and a number of close associates created paper stickers with an image of the wrestler André the Giant and the text "ANDRE THE GIANT HAS A POSSE 7' 4", 520lb", as in-joke directed at rap and skate culture, and then began clandestinely propagating and posting them in Providence, Rhode Island and the Eastern United States.

In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of paper and then vinyl stickers were photocopied and hand-silkscreened and put in visible places throughout the world, primarily in culturally influential urban settings in the United States, such as New York City, Atlanta, Austin, and San Francisco, but also in well-traveled places such as Greece, London, Mexico, Florida and the Caribbean Islands. In effect, Fairey and associates were creating a 'posse' of a wide audience of those who were in on the joke and willing to spread the message, and those who were not but found the original image profoundly irresistable.

Threat of a lawsuit from the WWE spurned Fairey to stop using the name André the Giant, or Giant, and create a more iconic image of the wrestler's face, now most often with the equally iconic branding, OBEY and DISOBEY.

Over time, Fairey's artistic imagery has evolved into a sometimes subtle, sometimes not, parody of a range of iconic styles, mostly a juxtaposition of popular political propagandas and multi-national commercialism. It usually bears the text OBEY Giant, DISOBEY, or most commonly OBEY.

In addition to countless small stickers, OBEY Giant has been spread by stencil, murals, and large wheatpaste posters, covering public spaces from abandoned building faces and street sign backs, to commercial spaces such as billboards and bus stop posters. Furthermore, the popular "OBEY" slogan and stylized Andre The Giant face continues to be reproduced on products ranging from art and clothing to home accessories and decor, considerably expanding the impact of the campaign.

Despite the ever-growing popularity of the OBEY Giant campaign, the actual objective is still unclear. Fairey occasionally creates work with actual messages (one OBEY graphic declares "Make Art Not War") but most of Giant's pictures have no meaning. The campaign's self-description on OBEY products is filled with doublespeak: "Frequent and novel encounters with OBEY propaganda provoke though and possible frustration, revitalizing the viewer's perception and attention to detail."

However, as a result of the commercialization of Giant, in 2005, OBEY Giant split into two distinct groups, Fairey's privately-held OBEY, and the Creative Commons-licensed World Giant in order to alleviate concerns that Fairey's commercial success was nullifying the movement's momentum and unfairly capitalizing on the labor of the original co-founders as well as anyone around the world who had ever put up a sticker. Interestingly, this split was made public via a video meme of a humerous manifesto produced by Giant/World Giant co-founder Iam Serious for a internet contest sponsored by media art activist group Contagious Media .

In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin paints the image on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, much to the displeasure of the Vatican. (Show creator and producer Seth MacFarlane went to RISD at the same time as Frank Shepard Fairey.)

In Batman II, a much-distorted Giant face can clearly be seen on a skyscraper as Batman flies the Batplane into Gotham airspace.

Fairey's iconic Andre The Giant face is a popular tattoo.

OBEY Giant and other similar phenomena such as All your base are belong to us and the Star Wars Kid are considered types of meme.

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