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Anachronistic Memes: The Best of the Bayeux Tapestry

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The original Bayeux Tapestry is a huge embroidered panel illustrating the Battle of Hastings and other historical scenes surrounding the Norman conquest of England in the year 1066. It was crafted sometime between then and 1077. Because of its use of pictures to tell the story, it has been called "the first known British comic strip."

Today, we have an online generator called the Historic Tale Construction Kit, with which anyone can create a virtual tapestry that will say anything you want, illustrated with characters copied from the original Bayeux Tapestry. Unfortunately, I've never been able to access the gallery at the site, but the best creations make their way into the internet at large. Modern pop cultural references and internet memes make great tapestries.

526CSI

Lieutenant Horatio Caine of the TV show CSI: Miami invariably begins the story with a pair of sunglasses and a horrible pun. Things were no different in medieval times. Monorail has more tapestries illustrating various memes, parodies, and jokes, including a series of panels illustrating the song "My Milkshake" by Kelis, and an appearance by Pedobear.

400hand

With a little tweaking of the language, any pop culture phrase can be adapted as a Bayeux Tapestry.

This notice is a translation of "the cake is a lie", which was originally a reference to the game Portal, but is also used just as it is to comment on either a cake or a deception.

550Belair

The next three revised Bayeux Tapestry examples are from Encyclopedia Dramatica. There are more, but be warned that any page of the website may be NSFW. If you've ever been engrossed in a dramatic story posted online only to have it devolve into the theme from the TV show The Fresh Price of Bel Air, then you'll appreciate this adaptation.

450Doods

Gamers brought us the phrase "I'm in ur base, killin ur d00dz," which went super viral when applied to LOLcats. It also works well on a tapestry.

550taseme

University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was arrested at a John Kerry speech in 2007. As he was overpowered by police, he yelled, "Don't Tase me, Bro!" They tased him anyway. The quote became an instant catchphrase. This tapestry illustrates how the outburst may have been worded in the Middle Ages.

450trebuchet

I don't know the source of this joyous tapestry, but I can assume that Keith Bowman would have been excited to witness the Battle of Hastings.

550bayeauxrythms1

Bayeaux Rhythms is a webcomic that is entirely generated with the Historic Tale Construction Kit.

550bayeuxrythm2

In between regular jokes, Bayeux Rhythms has occasional panels that deal with the problems of moving from the old website and communicating modern ideas to characters who are stuck in the Middle Ages.

550GotBack

There is only one female character in the tapestry toolbox, which just leaves that much more room for lyrics. These translate into Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back".

550egress

That one female character puts up with a lot of grief.

550twowenches

A certain pornographic video is better known for its shock effect than its desirability, which makes it ripe for mockery.

550mentlflss

Now see how simple this is? If I can put a tagline into language that vaguely resembles Middle English, you could easily come up with something much funnier! Try the Historic Tale Construction Kit yourself.

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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