MISSOULA, Mont. (CelebrityAccess) — Grunge rock legends Pearl Jam sparked a controversy after their promotional material for a recent concert in Montana featured a cartoon image of the White House in flames, with a bald eagle gnoshing on what appears to be President Trump’s corpse.
The poster was designed by Pearl Jam’s bassist Jeff Ament with the help of artist Bobby Brown, (not that Bobby Brown – this one goes by the online moniker of Bobby Draws Skullz, according to Rolling Stone.)
Ament posted a hand-written explanatory note with the poster, offering some insight into his reasoning for the artwork.
“You all know the deal,” Ament wrote. “We’re at a tipping point and its time for action.” He then voiced his support for U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat who is running for re-election this year.
“Jon Tester is the real deal,” Ament continued in the note. “And nobody cares more about the country and Montana. So here we are…this was a fun collab with one of my favorite artists, Bobby Draws Skullz. He killed it.”
Ament elaborated on his views to Rolling Stone, telling the publication: “The role of artists is to make people think and feel, and the current administration has us thinking and feeling. I was the sole conceptualist of this poster, and I welcome all interpretations and discourse. Love, from the First Amendment, Jeff Ament.”
Since the poster went live on the band’s social media, it has drawn both compliments and criticism from fans, with some commenters stating that they were splitsville with Pearl Jam over the image.
“Vedder, I’m ashamed to even be compared to you now as a singer.. growing up you helped me and my generation because you stood for something real. But now you’re a political, washed up puppet..” one user wrote posting under the name Jeremy Kilgore.
However, some fans were supportive, noting that if you’ve been a fan of the band, their politics shouldn’t be a mystery.
“If you’re surprised by this, you can’t be much of a Pearl Jam fan. Their politics should hardly come as a surprise to anyone,” said one fan posting as Drew Sidner wrote.
While it is too early to tell if this is a Dixie Chicks moment for Pearl Jam, they may have other concerns. Under U.S. law, threatening the President is a felony. While the poster doesn’t seem like a direct threat to Mr. Trump, that may not prevent Mr. Ament from having an uncomfortable conversation with the Secret Service.
In 2003, the Los Angeles Times published a Sunday editorial cartoon by conservative Michael Ramirez The cartoon recreated a dramatic photograph from the Vietnam War which captured the moment in which South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executed a Viet Cong prisoner with a gunshot to the head. In Ramirez’s illustration, the prisoner was replaced by U.S. President George W. Bush while the general had ‘Politics’ written on his back. While Ramirez was not charged in the case, he was questioned by the United Stakes Secret Service in the incident.
More recently, comedian Kathy Griffin nearly derailed her career after she appeared in a photo while holding a fake severed Trump head.
After the photo went viral on social media, Griffin was forced to apologize and disappeared from the scene for a better part of the year.
In an interview on Real Time With Bill Maher earlier this year, she recounted the fallout from the experience, including being put on travel lists that made international travel challenging.
As well, Jon Tester has been forced to step back from the poster. While he has yet to comment directly on the image, a spokesman for Tester told the Washington Post “We never saw the poster before the show, and we don’t like it. And we don’t condone violence of any kind. Period.”