NPR logo Bobbleheads & Bloggers: A Video Retrospective of Election '08

Decision 2008

Bobbleheads & Bloggers: A Video Retrospective of Election '08

(Updated 11/14/08)

On News & Notes, we've focused on the impact of political imagery — specifically the iconography surrounding Sen. Barack Obama. Here, producer Roy Hurst, who attended both political conventions this summer, expounds on the issue in word and video:

No candidacy in recent history has inspired more artistic expression than Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

During the 2008 election year, Obama imagery seemed to be everywhere — on walls, on bumper stickers, on clothing, and on the Internet.

The vastness and variety of Obama paraphernalia has generated untold sums of money and become both a cottage industry and an arts movement. Meanwhile, for better or worse, Barack Obama's image has become an icon.

The creative push of support for Obama has its roots in black culture, in youth culture, and in a general feeling of uncertainty among everyday people about the future of world.

With two wars, a sagging economy, and a deteriorating environment, many Americans yearned for something new in national politics.

Obama spoke directly to that yearning, and has become a symbol it.

It all seemed to start with an image called "HOPE" by guerrilla artist, Shepard Fairey. The image is rendered in red, white and blue, and features the face of Sen. Obama looking upward and outward to the future, above the word "hope."

Earlier in the year, reproductions of the image began to pop up in public spaces across the country. It seemed to be on the vanguard of a wave of artistic political expression that followed.

By contrast, Sen. John McCain's campaign seemed to focus on the imagery of the candidate's past. We saw photos and video footage of "McCain the soldier" and "McCain the POW." With these images, his campaign emphasized the theme of "Country First."

We've compiled a few video examples of election images below. Some are focused directly on the candidates; others are more ambiguous. We've also recorded interviews with an array of artists, vendors, and supporters of the two candidates.

Check out the videos below. Hopefully, they will serve as a small record of this unprecedented season of artistic expression during Election '08.

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— Roy Hurst


"From Hope to Hero" — Political imagery can take many forms. Guerrilla artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the iconic Obama "HOPE" posters, explains how his work managed to wield major political power.


"For & Against" — Everyone has an opinion. A street performer, members of a college political group, a black Republican, and a blogger who supports Obama explain the philosophies behind their presidential choices.


"Bobblehead" — Art intersects with commerce. Performance artists and vendors mix at the site of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.


"Action Figure" — Jason Feinberg, owner of Jailbreak Toys, explains what he's doing at the Democratic National Convention in Denver: "History's happening, and I've got an action figure to sell."

— Videos Produced by Roy Hurst

Flashback: From Hope to Hero: Political Art In Election 2008

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