Monday 19 November 2018

Pearl Jam’s White House poster criticised

The band played at a concert in Montana on Monday aimed to encourage young people to vote in November’s mid-term elections.

The official poster from Pearl Jam’s concert (Twitter via AP)
The official poster from Pearl Jam’s concert (Twitter via AP)

By Matt Volz, Associated Press

Republicans have condemned a poster by Pearl Jam that shows the White House in flames and a bald eagle pecking at a skeleton they say is meant to depict US President Donald Trump.

The National Republican Senate Committee compared it to the photo of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a fake decapitated head of Mr Trump.

The rock group’s Twitter account says the official poster from Monday’s concert in Missoula, Montana, is a collaboration between bassist Jeff Ament and Bobby Brown, an artist also known as Bobby Draws Skulls.

The Rock2Vote concert aimed to encourage young people to vote in the November mid-term elections and support Democratic US senator Jon Tester of Montana, who is from Ament’s hometown of Big Sandy.

The poster includes an accompanying message from Ament that says, “Y’all know the deal, we’re at a tipping point and its (sic) time for action.”

The poster shows Mr Tester in a tractor flying over a burning Washington DC, framed by the letters P and J, with smoke forming the word “Vote” in the background.

Several objects and people are in the foreground, including a skeleton with a full head of hair lying face down, an eagle pecking at the bones of its foot.

Mr Tester’s Republican opponent, Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale, is also depicted with a crab claw for a hand and carrying a “Maryland” flag, a reference to Rosendale’s native state.

The message from Ament accompanying the poster included the description: “DC burning. Tester Evel Knievel on tractor … over the cesspool below. Russian money, golf courses, hookers? Maryland Matt. Stars and Stripes as flames.”

Mr Rosendale called the poster “disgusting and reprehensible” and called on Mr Tester to “denounce this act of violence and blatant display of extremism”.

Probably more than ever it's important to have a congressman that can sort of make people think less emotionally Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament

The National Republican Senate Committee, which is supporting Mr Rosendale’s campaign, also blamed Mr Tester for not speaking out against the poster it called “gory”. The committee compared it to other examples of public figures “encouraging violence” against Mr Trump, like Griffin’s photo.

Ament told The Associated Press in April that the band wanted to use the Montana concert to support local advocacy groups, encourage voter participation and boost Mr Tester’s campaign. He said he believed that the political climate had become too divisive.

“Probably more than ever it’s important to have a congressman that can sort of make people think less emotionally about some of these things,” he said.

Officials from Mr Tester’s campaign said it had nothing to do with the poster.

“We never saw the poster before the show and we don’t like it,” spokesman Chris Meagher said. “And we don’t condone violence of any kind.”

Press Association

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