The Last Supper and Video Databases

When MissDre, Huckle, and I were in Brooklyn this winter break eating ice cream and smoking mint flavored hookah out of a grapefruit, Dre shared with us her newest start-up idea, one that would potentially propel us to fame and fortune. Her idea was to create an wikidatabase for music videos. Users would upload 6-10 music videos from youtube for each playlist, tagging based on visual as opposed to audio relationships among the videos. This way fans could sort through the artists and video artists (directors, animators, light and sound experts) that they like, and musicians would hopefully try to make their videos better and more interesting so that their work would make it to the website. Right now it is easy on youtube to find, for example, a Rihanna playlist, but it is not easy to search for feminist, surrealist, or story-telling videos.

This sort of database would also make it easier for academics (or your average student of pop culture) to wade through all of the shitty TPain videos out there to find something a little more interesting. I love “5O’Clock,” but I would rather stare out the window on a bus as it chugs through Holyoke than watch this video more than once. A little creativity and a budget of over $12 is all I’m asking for.

Real World Application: Sometimes I am embarrassed to reveal this, but I am a fan of the band Pretty Reckless, led by singer Taylor Momsen. She is a small-scale actress as well, most known for her roles as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl (oh how the shame intensifies as I express my pop culture interests), and Cindy Lou-Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (my favorite holiday movie, if you were wondering, and I have seen them all). Pretty Reckless is a rock band, but with a little skinny blonde girl as the lead singer I think the band finds it hard to wade deep enough into that genre to be taken seriously. Their sound is not pop-y enough to go the Avril route into alternative pop, so it is safe to say that their fan base will not grow tremendously beyond emo, closet-lovers of Gossip Girl and Ukrainian teenage boys. Whether the music is to your taste or not, the point of my introducing her band is that  she produced a very interesting video in 2011, which reminded me of a very interesting movie from 1966, which led me to embark on a search of similar videos or visual clips, which I would not find because there is not database for such things.

The video for the song “Miss Nothing” opens with an image of a long table, at which are seated 11 men and one woman (Momsen). All are facing the camera. The chair in the middle, the space usually reserved in this sort of “Last Supper” parody for the Jesus-figure, is vacant. Momsen occupies the seat to the left of center where it is contested that Leonardo Da Vinci painted Mary Magdalene in his 1490 mural painting. Over the course of 4 minutes she proceeds to roll around the table, knocking things over and wreaking havoc on the sacred feast.

Pretty Reckless–Miss Nothing:

This exact theme of a wrecked Supper of Importance is played out in the Czech movie “Daisies” (tr. “Sedmikrasky”), about two girls (Marie I and Marie II) who spend the entire last half of the movie (a plotless, surrealist treat) destroying a feast set for dignitaries of the communist party. They eat all of the food, throw it on each other, and break the dishes and cookware in a far less sexualized parody of ruined ritual.

Daisies–Table Dance:

Both of these videos are weighted with metaphorical depictions of women destroying up feasts that they have not been invited to. “Denied a chalice at the feast of the fatherland” (quoted from the poem “1972” by Joseph Brodsky), contemporary women have been given a chance in the 21st century to begin a dialogue with religion in a new and powerful way—through popular TV, movies, and especially music. What I would love to tell you is how these two videos communicate with one another, with other female appearances in Last Supper renderings, and with Last Supper parodies in general, but as previously mentioned, the database does not yet exist.

Art provides a medium for this discussion, and always has. But works of art are in galleries that often charge for admission, and music videos are on youtube for free. Which, in your opinion, appears to be the untapped organizational resource?

"Renée Cox's "Yo Mama's Last Supper" is made up of five large color photographs show a naked black woman (the artist's self-portrait), with her arms raised to heaven, with the twelve disciples, all black, seated behind a long table....the work so upset New York mayor Rudy Giuliani at the time that he called for a "decency commission" to monitor the morals the Brooklyn Museum of Art.


 Photo by Howard Schatz^

The poster, by French fashion house Marithé and François Gribaud, is a version of Leonardo da Vinci's work with an almost all-female cast. Angelic-looking women clad in the company's "casual chic" pose around a long table as Christ and his apostles. One man, John the Apostle, sits on a woman's lap, his torso bare and jeans riding low. The poster has been plastered on walls, billboards and magazines in New York and Paris for weeks. In Milan, where Leonardo's fresco is preserved and the influence of the Vatican is never far away, city authorities have banned it.


* Thank you Popped Culture for the photos!

Have a great week!