Fairey credits They Live as a “major source of inspiraton” for his own subversive brand of street art. “They Live was … the basis for my use of the word ‘obey,’” Fairey said in a statement. “The movie has a very strong message about the power of commercialism and the way that people are manipulated by advertising.”
Describing his 2003 exhibition, This Is Your God, Fairey noted: “One of my main concepts with the show, and the [Obey] campaign as a whole, was that obedience is the most valuable currency. People rarely consider how much power they sacrifice by blindly following a self-serving corporation’s marketing agenda, and how their spending habits reflect the direction in which they choose to transfer power.” They Live addresses those same issues, Fairey said.