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Aunt Jemima does the
March 18, 2004 11:52 AM   Subscribe

The strange synchronicity of The Last Breakfast. Two paintings, created by two different artists, in two different countries, four years apart, but with striking similarities. (via sdw)
posted by Ufez Jones (22 comments total)

 
Personally, I like the latter better since it's got Quisp.

And damn, my title got snafued. It did say "Aunt Jemima does the 'big arms' thing".
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2004


And from that page we get to The Picture of Everything. Which is pretty cool. Everything from Clifford the Big Red Dog to Burning Man to Ralph and Alice Kramden.... but I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 12:01 PM on March 18, 2004


After taking another look. I didn't mention any interesting ones.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 12:05 PM on March 18, 2004


And damn, my title got snafued.

I'd be lying if I said "Aunt Jemima does the Metafilter" didn't bring a smile to my face.

There's also the Superhero Last Supper, from a recent Fark photoshop contest.
posted by Ljubljana at 12:23 PM on March 18, 2004


Ljyubljana: Wow, that guy did with Photoshop better than The Last Breakfast did from scratch (not that the latter is so bad).
posted by abcde at 12:37 PM on March 18, 2004


I don't find it that surprising. It really seems the most obvious pop culture parody you could do of that famous painting. This idea seems like something my stupid little mind would have also come up with. Credit to the two artists for actually executing their ideas rather than just joking about it and leaving it.
posted by nasim at 12:48 PM on March 18, 2004


The writer on the link finds this just incredible, but it ain't. What nasim said. Also, look at the numbers of parodies of other iconic paintings like the Mona Lisa or American Gothic.
posted by beagle at 1:04 PM on March 18, 2004


Picasso and Braque they ain't.
posted by gwint at 1:43 PM on March 18, 2004


beagle, your links are munged. any chance of posting them correctly?
posted by quonsar at 1:46 PM on March 18, 2004


Other parodies of the Last Supper here and here. Then there is this (NSFW). (The latter is by a well-known art photographer, more here.)
posted by beagle at 1:55 PM on March 18, 2004


Sorry, links corrected: Mona Lisa , American Gothic.
posted by beagle at 2:01 PM on March 18, 2004


Although it's not that obscure an idea, it's still quite possible that the guy stole it. Perhaps unintentionally. Perhaps someone who had seen it mentioned it to him in passing. Maybe he overheard a description of it at an art-people's thing, and subconsciously filed it away. I've done this myself in the past.

I bring it up because, while the general idea is pretty obvious, specific things (like having a female syrup mascot as Jesus) seem less obvious, and rather unlikely coincidences.
posted by Hildago at 3:49 PM on March 18, 2004


I once spent three months working on a script for a feature that was going to be an updating of the Odyssey, set in Glasgow with a man driving south home to London to see his wife again. All Homers characters were going to be there, the cyclops was going to be a fat Liverpudlian with an eye patch, etc.

Then I got the trade papers and read about how the Coen brothers were about to start shooting their new film, an adaptation of Homers Odyssey.

Now I'd love to think that I was going on about my script to someone in a bar and one of the Coen's happened to overhear, but sadly I think it was just bad luck that two variations on this theme should come about at roughly the same time (I say roughly as they must have started on theirs a couple of years before I did).

Anyway, I'm left broke but with the slight satisfaction that once, a little bit, I kind of had the same-ish idea for a film as the Coens.

Who the hell am I kidding, those bastards ripped me off. I knew I should have reinforced the tin foil hat.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:05 PM on March 18, 2004


a female syrup mascot as Jesus

agreed. unlikely coincidence. as has been mentioned the meme is not new so the "original" is derivative as well. Certainly there are artists looking for ideas in lesser known channels and re-posting them, not unlike journalists searching MeFi for story ideas and trends.
posted by stbalbach at 6:52 PM on March 18, 2004


I dunno, maybe inspiration comes in sheets...but it splits off when it hits the atmosphere....and little bits of it float down...like celestial blotter acid.

Like ciderwoman and the cyclops story, I've seen plenty of times when writers, artists, musicians, creative genius types will all start brainstorming on a similar theme, without access to each other. It's like a namshub has been released, and it spreads through the creatives...but only a small percentage of those creatives can or will do anything with the idea.

I do think it's possible that these artists had the idea at the same time and each implemented it in his own way. Weirder stuff than that happens all the time.
posted by dejah420 at 7:57 PM on March 18, 2004


My Sweet Lord/He's So Fine
Unconscious copying.
posted by anathema at 8:01 PM on March 18, 2004


actually I'd think of all the spokespeople to play Jesus, I'd pick aunt Jemima too, since she is pretty much the exact opposite of the traditional view of Jesus.
Ideas work on their own agenda.
posted by dabitch at 1:28 AM on March 19, 2004


I once spent three months working on a script for a feature that was going to be an updating of the Odyssey,

Using the odyssey as a basic story line is not a new idea. I mean, to start with, there's James Joyce's Ulysses... but wasn't "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" based on the odyssey, too? It's like using one of shakespeare's plays but updating or changing the context - what really matters is how well the script is written; it just gives you a story line to work off of.

Yeah, on this I'm not sure, I could believe either. Parodying the Last Supper = obvious; parodying it as a breakfast made of corporate breakfast icons is definitely less obvious, but two people could have come up with it independently. It is always disappointing as a creative person to discover that so many other people have had the same ideas you have, that you think are genius, innovative, original, mind-blowing, and then you discover someone wrote basically the same thing 2500 years ago - or maybe just 3 years ago - or maybe both. There are only so many ideas out there, I guess - and the good ones are the ones which will resonate - I think emerson said that we see in the work of genius our own rejected ideas, returning with a strange alien majesty - or something like that. The point is, if it's good, it will very likely be the kind of thing someone else thought of already.

On the other hand, Aunt Jemima seems like the best candidate for jesus, for many reasons, and the second artist chose mrs. butterworth, although he as aunt jemima right next to her, which almost strikes me as "well, I can't just copy it exactly"... but of course that's reading a bit too much into things.
posted by mdn at 6:56 AM on March 19, 2004


A further example: how Leon Arden and Richard Lupoff separately came up with "hero lives same day repeatedly" plots, then both claimed their work had been ripped off for the plot of Groundhog Day (more details here). As mdn says, writers very easily overestimate the originality of their ideas.
posted by raygirvan at 8:20 AM on March 19, 2004


Using the odyssey as a basic story line is not a new idea. I mean, to start with, there's James Joyce's Ulysses... but wasn't "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" based on the odyssey, too?

Yeah, that would be the Coen Brothers script that Ciderwoman heard about while she was working on hers!
posted by kindall at 8:24 AM on March 19, 2004


Applied to science, this concept is sort of what Thomas Kuhn was talking about in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
posted by anathema at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2004


Yeah, that would be the Coen Brothers script that Ciderwoman heard about while she was working on hers!

ahahhaha. I'm an idiot.

Sorry, I thought it was something forthcoming, as I thought I'd heard of an adaptation of the odyssey coming out soon - maybe that was just "troy". Well, there was apparently a surfer movie based off the odyssey, and really post-joyce I'm not sure it can be considered a new idea to adapt the story.

Like I said, it has a lot more to do with the quality of the script itself. Working off earlier texts or stories is a good way to begin with a resonant story (as Shakespeare did for nearly all of his writings) but what makes it work or not is the way it's done (that's what we remember Wm for, after all). In other words, originality is not necessarily the most important factor, although simple copycat work is not inspiring either. I think there is something to the idea that if you come to it on your own, you have a deeper sense of why you're doing it, what it's really about, than if you're just hopping onto a trend. So if your script was good, fuck the coen brothers, and finish it.
posted by mdn at 1:04 PM on March 19, 2004


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