The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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When do we eat?

December 31st, 2007 · No Comments · christianity, culture, media

After posting the Folsom Street Fair poster, I started thinking about how versions of the “Last Supper” scene, both serious and satirical, have been made over the centuries. DaVinci’s is simply the most famous.

It inspired me to consider writing an epic blog entry, showing the various parodies one can google. In the process, I discovered that other people have already done all the hard work. Dan Savage started his collection back in September, and after 6 updates posted a total of 35 variations of the scene.

An hour of my own turned up 55 more images, sacred and profane, besides the classic daVinci. Here’s a nice overview of some of the main daVinci controversy topics. Many sacred images here.

I personally spent some time snipping the heads of Jesus out of all of the images I could be bothered to copy, and pasted them all together, top to bottom and left to right. And behold! The Wall of Jesus.

My research uncovered the unsurprising fact that people love to take famous images and remake them in ways that more closely reflect their own culture. This includes satirical representations of famous people in the positions of Christ and the disciples, ethnic appearances reflecting local populations, and the use of decor and props more appropriate for local traditions than those of ancient Palestine.

Although some modern satirical images use sexual deviancy as a theme, the most shocking images are easily the earliest ones — where the “beloved disciple” has his face planted most indiscreetly into the Savior’s lap, or where the clowns and burlesque show up roundabout the holy table. While the classical artists may have shuffled the tableau, you always know where the Christ and the Betrayer are.

Modern versions tend to be reenactments or artistic substitutions in standard arrangements — the daVinci one (naturally) being the most popular. I found versions of dogs, cats (several), rats, dinosaurs, gamblers, gangsters, knitters, Legos, Rastafari, hippies, models, rock stars, doctors, nudists, zombies, anime characters, Simpsons characters, video-game characters, fastfood cartoon characters, and several with queers — including an all-nude set almost entirely cast with heavyset men. Quite a few of the modern versions are actually more powerful than their oil-based counterparts. (Such as.)

Now, with all of this background, I look again at the FSF poster and I’m struck at what a nice job they did. They kept with the daVinci theme very well: they used the groups of threes, the single-sided seating, and the same perspective. It certainly had one of the most beatific Christs I’ve seen in any of these. It also probably has the biggest dildo than in any other Last Supper image, ever. Even the beloved disciple would agree.

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