Maddenation

Andre the Giant has a posse.

I am working on my nametag project, working on the purpose of it, my goals for it, the logistics. and i am reading about other projects like this that other people have done. the coolest one i can find is the one with the guy from providence who put up thousands of stickers with andre the giant’s face on them with the words, “Andre the Giant has a posse” and people didn’t understand what it meant and got all mad and stuff. there was no reason for the guy to do it, really, but it’s interesting nonetheless. in the “read more” section is the artist’s statement on his Giant project. it’s interesting.

A Social and Psychological Explanation

The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.

The FIRST AIM OF PHENOMENOLOGY is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The Giant sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because the sticker has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.

Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The PARANOID OR CONSERVATIVE VIEWER however may be confused by the sticker’s persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily.

Another phenomenon the sticker has brought to light is the trendy and CONSPICUOUSLY CONSUMPTIVE nature of many members of society. For those who have been surrounded by the sticker, its familiarity and cultural resonance is comforting and owning a sticker provides a souvenir or keepsake, a memento. People have often demanded the sticker merely because they have seen it everywhere and possessing a sticker provides a sense of belonging. The Giant sticker seems mostly to be embraced by those who are (or at least want to seem to be) rebellious. Even though these people may not know the meaning of the sticker, they enjoy its slightly disruptive underground quality and wish to contribute to the furthering of its humorous and absurd presence which seems to somehow be anti-establishment/societal convention. Giant stickers are both embraced and rejected, the reason behind which, upon examination reflects the psyche of the viewer. Whether the reaction be positive or negative, the stickers existence is worthy as long as it causes people to consider the details and meanings of their surroundings. In the name of fun and observation.

Shepard Fairey, 1990

DanExplanations03/24/03 8 comments

Comments

Patrick • 03/24/03 10:22 PM:

You do, I hope, realize that this is the site I was sending you to when you first proposed your project, right? Back then your comment in reply to my comment seemed not to recognize that, and here neither. I want credit, duud!

Are you already wearing your nametag around? Is anybody trailing you, surreptitiously snapping digital photos? Videos? Give us the juice!

Dad • 03/24/03 10:39 PM:

I would personally be extremely curious about it, wanting to find out who’s behind it and what its purpose is. Did this guy conduct a survey of people he observed viewing, stealing, defacing, etc. the poster? Or is he just speculating about how he thinks they might have felt? I don’t think seeing the sticker would cause me to question my relationship with my surroundings. Seeing the poster as a college student (assuming it were done with some other person known at that time) I would probably have reacted differently than I would now. Then, I might have spent a lot of time “getting frustrated” about it, wondering what it meant. (along with Beatles lyrics) Now, I would more likely assume it was some kid’s prank and go on with my life.

As an engineer and scientist, I have little patience with such “social experiments.” Conjectures about what might have been on the minds of those viewing the posters are mostly useless. If a controlled experiment was conducted in which people were interviewed about their reactions, somewhat more validity could be assigned, but results would still be suspect because people wouldn’t admit how stupid they really might have been. Ultimately, what purpose does it serve? Maybe it helps explain why we’re so susceptable to urban legends, why we would rather be told what to think than think ourselves, why Hollywood actors herd together in opposition to the war because to do otherwise would brand them as insensitive (Whoops! there I go conjecturing.)

Anyway, it sounds like the guy did it for no reason just to see what would happen, and stuff happened. OK, so maybe next time I see an odd poster, I can now more easily accept the possibility that it means nothing, or at least nothing important. Ultimately, what good is that?

Dan • 03/25/03 12:50 AM:

pat, i knew about that site long before you did. i’m all over it, dog. anyway, i’m not yet wearing the nametag, but i am writing a statement and developing a purpose. i will have a website up by next week (very prelim, will be developed with flash) and will feature my opening comments and have a feedback forum room (pat, a little help with that would be grrrreat). there will be a section for reflections, day-to-day observations, pictures, and (i hope) audio and/or video. i want to give evidence of interaction. i am not sure exactly how i’m going to get the buzz about www.whoisdan.com, maybe just word of mouth for the first week, then a huge banner in lafortune after that, and more advertisements. would advertising the web address be cheating? i don’t know. perhaps it would raise curiosity and people would start looking for me. i don’t know. so that’s where i am.

Patrick • 03/25/03 8:58 AM:

Wow. I would not have the guts to do this sort of thing. Especially not a banner in LaFortune! But you have always been more of a showman (for instance, I never sang in front of people until I was a missionary, and then it was kind of different). Good luck! If we’re timing our finding out about Andre the Giant’s posse, then I’d admit that I saw the sticker probably 2 or 3 years ago on the door of an OU classmate. Then I found the website maybe a year ago. Can you beat that? Huh? I’m only messing. But great luck to you!

Regarding feedback forums, I am not very sure how to do anything like that. You’d want a visitor’s book or whatever they’re called, I think. Not a full-fleged discussion forum, I don’t think. Where are you going to host this site? Will it just be URL-forwarded to your ND account? Your choice of host will determine, to some extent, what sort of stuff you can have running. Ask around with ND computer services how to do this. They might have something already set up. Make it awesome! (And pronounce that a-wee-sum.)

Dad • 03/25/03 11:07 AM:

Please, aw-wee-so-mee!

David • 04/01/03 11:08 AM:

I saw that sticker when I was in 3rd grade at OLM. One of the nuns had it on her banjo case. I remember feeling a kinship with my environment, a greater awareness. After that, I went back to glueing more cotton balls onto my paper plate.

I think it will be a righteous project. How’s it going? (right now I’d email you back about the purpose, but hotmail is down). I like the purpose - but maybe add more of a personal side to it. Maybe a story. Kinda like, and I’m not making this up, how three weeks ago we had a faculty retreat where we all had to wear name tags. When the day was over I had no choice other than to dispose of the sticker in the way it was meant to be disposed of - by sticking it on some unsuspecting lady’s back. Now that’s humor, and much like farts, it’s funny every time. This lady, Wendy, was now walking around with a spiffy “Dave” name tag on her shoulder. Comedy galore.

So yea, maybe give a touch of YOU, a little more insight into your weirdo brain. :) Can’t wait to check it out.

David • 04/10/03 10:34 PM:

First it was the dishes. Now this. Why am I always the “last commenter”. I undoubtedly have the highest last comment percentage of all the family (that is on post than I’ve commented on). Can you hear it too? Sounds like a record needle screeching across the vinyl - is that really happening when I comment? Sure seems like it. Prove me wrong if you want! :)

Dad • 04/11/03 1:16 PM:

David,
If I’m not mistaken, you once had the last 3 comments, all the same.

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