A quiet church scene, Gregorian chant, people getting their sins absolved for money. Then comes a hideous knocking at the church door. What’s this, somebody nailing paper to the door? Martin Luther? 95 Theses? Yes. Shot in high-quality black and white.
If this all sounds like a cheesy History Channel reshooting, it certainly looks like one. But when Alexander Dominitz ’09 starts rapping to the beat of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” it goes from corny to ridiculous. “If you havin’ Church problems then don’t blame God, son / I got ninety-five theses but the Pope ain’t one.” Okay…
Dominitz claims he did not want to make a film that went for cheap laughs. “We never intended it to be funny,” he explained. “Absurd, yes.” He argued that the “strange juxtaposition” of rap and religion was the aim in this video. Indeed, the inclusion of Prof. Murray Biggs as the pope adds a certain gravitas.
“The death in the end of the [‘99 Problems’] video symbolizes the death of Jay-Z’s career, but throughout the video he portrays himself as a rebel, against the grain, and Martin Luther kinda went through the same thing,” he added. “It was interesting, trying to create a hip-hop version of Martin Luther … we never wanted to be a bunch of thugged-out white kids rapping.”
The video maintains an exceedingly high quality of image, lighting and sound throughout, although Dominitz said it was all shot on a handheld camera on campus with dorm lamps for lighting. He maintained that the reason for the high quality was the fact that the video was shot in black and white.
Dominitz’s video has already received over 21,000 views on YouTube since Oct. 20.