How A St. Louis Band's Zombie Obama T-Shirt Forced A Virginia Republican To Resign And Got The Attention Of The Secret Service

obama-zombie-hftm.jpg
The original HFTM shirt with the image in question
An official with the Virginia Republican party has resigned, thanks in large part to the T-Shirt artwork of short-lived 2008-2009 St. Louis hardcore band Head For The Mountains. Set apart from most local punk and hardcore bands by its members' right-wing conservative leanings, HFTM commissioned a shirt design lampooning the ubiquitous "Hope" and "Change" campaign posters of the 2008 election designed by artist Shepard Fairey. The artwork depicts the President as a decaying zombie, complete with a bullet hole in his head over his right eye.

As first reported on by Virginia political blog Too Conservative this Monday, Loudoun County Republican Committee Communications Director Robert Jesionowski used the image in a Halloween-themed mass e-mail. He has explained that he found the image though a Google image search for the words "Obama" and "Zombie".

"I check Right-Wing websites every morning before I head off to work," says HFTM vocalist Matt Monroe. "I saw this on The Blaze, along with the part where it says the Secret Service are aware of the situation. I immediately called up the artist that made it for us and told him to delete everything off of his computer and move to a shack in the wilderness somewhere." [Laughs]

"We only made 25 of those shirts," Matt continues. "It took two years to get a response! The design was made strictly for shock value. Obviously the bullet hole is in reference to what you do with zombies, NOT with presidents."

When asked if this recent publicity will have any impact on the inactive status of the band, Matt replied "The band might reform. We have friends telling us we'd be stupid not to, if only to sell some shirts."

The artist that created the picture in question could not be reached from what I can only assume is his underground bunker hideout.

The email that started all this and video of HFTM in action on the next page.


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19 comments
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Anon
Anon

Conservative punk rock? Isn't that an oxymoron? Lame...

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

That Jared fellow is just upset because his design didn't get any national attention and this band's did.  Perhaps that band is the one who came up with the design first and Jared thought that it may be too controversial so he tweeked it to his liking and came up with his design. 

Needless to say it's pretty funny that any politician would think it was okay to use such a graphic image.  

anonbob
anonbob

Basically all of the elements, with the notable exception of the gunshot, are taken from the ZOMBAMA design. It's a clear copy.

Jared Moraitis
Jared Moraitis

The zombie Obama design is actually a ripoff of my original ZOMBAMA design. I was smart enough to not feature a bullet hole in the President's forehead, though. If they'd have simply used the original and not settled for third-rate knockoffs, the Loudoun County GOP could have avoided all of this controversy and mess.

www.beastpop.blogspot.com

Potcallingthekettler
Potcallingthekettler

if they supposedly ripped you off, then what does that make your original "design parodying Shepard Fairey's Obama "Hope" poster and his "style" of art recycling" (which his was sued copyright infringement of an AP photo)? 

Jared Moraitis
Jared Moraitis

It's a parody design. Exactly. When someone else copies a parody nearly note for note, THAT is a ripoff. Sure, my design would not exist without Fairey's to be based upon, but that's legally-fair parody. I did not copy and paste Fairey's and add elements of my own -- I redrew the entire thing from scratch. This other artist has obviously copied and pasted elements of Fairey's and mine and overlayed poorly-rendered elements of their own. All of the elements are the same, except they added the bullet hole and switched the exposed brain to the other side. That is not enough of a discrepancy to stand up in court as a legally protected separate work, yet the artist clearly copied my design in making his. I did not copy Fairey's design, I based my work on his.

Anonymous
Anonymous

looking closely at the pictures side-by-side, i'll definitely give you the flies. those are a little close for comfort; makes one wonder....

Texas Colt
Texas Colt

Actually, it was commissioned to an artist, and though there may be similarities, it was an original. Anyway, I don't think the artist was financially compensated, so how is there any intellectual property claim? I mean, Unless you really want to go after a group of blue collar average joes to recoup the $50 (maybe) in profit they may made on the shirts 2 years ago, in a band that was around for a year (maximum). As far as you know, they have not trademarked it, so make you own shirts and sell them. It's called capitalism... 

Anonymous
Anonymous

seems silly to call it a "ripoff". it's a simple enough idea, really, just a satire of the campaign posters. as if zombie shit isn't popular enough already nowadays....but i do agree that your design would not have resulted in this fallout.

Sean Hook
Sean Hook

It's not the idea that's in question. It's the fact that the true designer was blatantly ripped off and not given credit. The fact that the "musician" also claimed that they only had a limited print run of the shirts featuring art from an artists that they "commisioned" that in truth knew nothing about their art being used is an even bigger slap in the face.

Anonymous
Anonymous

you don't read well. they did commission that art. the picture on the t-shirt and the "zombama" artwork that jared made are DIFFERENT PICTURES. similar, yes, but only because they were both making fun of the exact same original image (the campaign posters). the point is that zombies are popular, and it makes sense that two artists -- unbeknownst to one another -- had the same rather simple idea.

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