On the "Explain Like I'm Five" subreddit, Reddit user Buusakasaka posed a question:
For centuries, Leonardo da Vinci's most famous work wasn't well-known outside of artistic circles. It was just another painting from the guy who brought us The Last Supper. You might remember Steven Spielberg as the director of Jurassic Park, but you probably don't know him as a director of 1989's Always, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter. The Mona Lisa was da Vinci's Always.
Coulda' used a couple dinosaurs.
It's not like people thought the Mona Lisa sucked, either. Critics loved it. But as the recent financial success of Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice goes to show, people don't give a shit about what critics have to say. And it's not like it's an underappreciated classic. It was handed down from one French monarch to another, until eventually Napoleon displayed it in his bedroom. Yet to most people on Earth, the Mona Lisa was just another painting, no more significant than any other. Until it was stolen.
One day in August of 1911, three Italian brothers walked into the Louvre and walked out with the Mona Lisa. The theft made front-page news all over the world. The scandal had all the sensationalist intrigue of the O.J. trial, though without the horrific murders. It even had celebrities wrapped up in it. Pablo Picasso was brought in for questioning because four years earlier he had unknowingly bought art that had been stolen from the Louvre by the secretary of a famous poet and playwright named Guillaume Apollinaire. Even American banking tycoon J.P. Morgan was tossed into the mix when French newspapers pulled a conspiracy theory out of their asses by claiming he funded the heist so he could add the painting to his private collection.
The Mona Lisa went from just another painting to the most famous painting in the world seemingly overnight, and it's remained that way ever since. Almost none of its immense fame has to do with da Vinci's artistry. The Mona Lisa is as famous as it is because it's famous for being famous.
That sounds suspiciously like the legacy of a family Americans treat like royalty, even though not a single one of us can explain what the any of them have done to become famous.
Other than fuck Brandy's brother in a sex tape.
If you like to blame the existence of useless celebrities on a character flaw carried by a whole generation of people, let the story of the Mona Lisa remind you that the Kardashians are nothing new. They will always exist because we want them to -- whether that's as people, as paintings, or whatever version of them comes next. What I'm saying is prepare for Pluto Nash to become priceless in the future.
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