“Feather” Carries Weight
Justin Higuchi
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Sacred spaces aren’t always respected as such. This sentiment is strikingly clear in Sabrina Carpenter’s “Feather” music video, which set her 2022 hit to gory imagery…in a Catholic church. Parts of the music video were filmed in the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brooklyn. The former supervisor, Monsignor Jamie J. Gigantiello, was relieved of his duties following the video’s release, though he asserts that Carpenter’s proposal differed from the product. 

Although the video depicts a funeral scene, which Gigantiello approved, the props used are jarring: the chancel and altar feature pastel coffins, candles, and figurines, some of which contain vulgar language such as “RIP B****.” Following an outcry from the church’s congregation, Bishop Robert J Brennan celebrated a Mass of Reparation to restore the space’s sanctity. Despite the uproar, the young pop star had a notably terse response– “Jesus was a carpenter.”

Interestingly, Sabrina Carpenter is not alone in releasing blasphemous imagery. Fans of older hits may recall Madonna’s music video for “Like a Prayer” (1989), in which the Queen of Pop features a stigmata, dream sequence kissing a saint, and more that ultimately resulted in a condemnation by the Vatican. However, as The New York Times points out, Madonna’s video was filmed in a studio rather than a church. Arguably the master of pushing boundaries, Lady Gaga similarly faced backlash for her “Alejandro” (2010) music video that depicts the singer wearing a red latex habit and swallowing rosary beads. Unsurprisingly, the video was condemned by the Catholic League. 

In filming “Feather,” Sabrina Carpenter aligns herself with these irreligious superstars. Scandal garners attention, and attention builds fame. Yet, I believe that the pop star’s creative team should be more sensitive when approaching religious topics. According to the Code of Canon Law, “In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden.” Violations of religious doctrine should not be treated as a star-making vehicle, but should instead be recognized as disrespect for others’ beliefs. Sacred spaces are meant to be treated with due regard. Ultimately, “Feather” demonstrates that it will likely behoove Carpenter to adopt a more bird’s eye view, if only to preserve her brand’s integrity.


Additional references:

Delgado, Sara. “Sabrina Carpenter Addresses Catholic Church Music Video Controversy: “Jesus Was a Carpenter.”” Teen Vogue, 29 November 2023, Accessed 11 January 2024.

Pellot, Brian. “From Madonna to Lady Gaga: 10 of the most ‘blasphemous’ pop songs and music videos.” Religion News Service, 1 November 2013, Accessed 11 January 2024.



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