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Raphael, “The School of Athens,” as seen in the background of Mary McGillivray’s TikTok (via Wikimedia Commons)

As a person who largely uses an undergraduate degree in Theater Design to make kick-ass Halloween costumes, I can very much appreciate the energy being invested by a TikTok-er known as @_theiconoclass in debunking the damaging rumor that Damiano David, the frontman of Eurovision 2021 winners Måneskin, was caught in a video clip snorting cocaine in the green room.

Twitter user Rachael Krishna lauded TikTok-er and degree-holding Renaissance art history major Mary McGillivray for her pithy application of expert training in mapping the angles and visual geometry of a tableau.

McGillivray’s analysis first used the foreground objects obscuring David’s head-dip — which he claimed was to look at some broken glass under the table — to establish that the singer’s nose never actually approached the level of the tabletop. She further compared the height of shortest and most adjacent band member Victoria and the way her knees rose above the seating arrangement to theorize that David’s knees would have been even higher in the plane (remembering to factor in the fabulous five-inch boots he was wearing during the performance). This suggests that his hand was resting on his knees, not holding a straw to facilitate illicit drug consumption.

For his part, David has volunteered to submit to drug testing to prove that Måneskin’s win was a clean victory, but McGillivray has already made a valiant case in his defense.

“I’m putting my art history rep on the line, and I will die on this hill,” she says at the end of her thesis. McGillivray has a popular TikTok account via which she explores many themes related to the field such as “what era is my face from”; “Taylor Swift and Iconography”; and why we should refer to Artemisia Gentileschi by her first name. No word yet on why we should call Lil Nas X by your name, but the day is still young, and McGillivray is likely taking some time to celebrate having won her current case in the court of public opinion.

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Sarah Rose Sharp

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....