Hello Backers, a quick note that follows on the horrific and heartbreaking massacre in Paris on the satirical weekly paper, Charlie Hebdo.
One of the last interviews we conducted for our documentary was just prior to Thanksgiving in Paris where we interviewed Ludovic Houplain, a French graphic artist who, with a handful of other graphic artists created the short film, 'LOGORAMA,' a parody of nearly 3000 logos that critiqued our obsession with brands and trademarks.
The French have a great tradition of critique and parody, and proudly protect their right to free speech -- even when it concerns trademarks and logos.
This was proudly on display in the Academy Award-winning short film LOGORAMA where, along with many other logos engaging in a less-than-corporate-approved way, Ronald McDonald is depicted wielding a machine gun and shooting at kids with bullets that are the logo for the NRA (National Rifle Association).
In the U.S. trademarks and logos are often considered sacrosanct property, and off limits for artists -- Chick-fil-A's cease and desist letter to Bo is one of many examples that perpetuate this myth. But from a legal standpoint, this is largely not true -- yet it's a widely held perception that moved one American University scholar to address the issue in a paper entitled "LOGORAMA: The Great Trademark Heist."
Anyway, the terrible events in Paris of the past week made us think of our interview with Ludovic Houplain who, with solemn poignancy, had some great things to say about artists and their rights to free speech:
"I'm an artist, and in France I have the right free speech and I'm going to use it. And if they attack me, I'll defend myself in saying that this is French law, which is part of our right to free speech. And the right to parody and caricature in the US -- it's not really the same deal as here, so, I'm really counting on French law. ... As far as freedom of expression goes, I think that artists should take precedence over brands; if not, the world might be ruled by fear. And if we are always afraid of things, we won't do anything, we won't create. I think that artists must create and shouldn't be afraid. And at the same time, with a work of art, we're not hurting anybody: a work of art can't make somebody sick. And if you want to make a work of art that critiques brands, well that's your right as an artist. It is our right to free speech. Then afterwards, you have to accept the consequences, because, at some point, a brand could bring you to trial. But you have your conscience. That's what we have: we have our consciences."
Our hearts and thoughts go to the families and friends of those slain in Paris.
Okay, that's all for now. Work on our film continues. As always, thank you for your support of our documentary in production. Until next time...