Fortnite is responsible for more than just your young cousin's slow descent into isolation and madness. It's also responsible for a whole lot of headlines that could only be possible in this brave, bizarre new century. We take it for granted now, but how weird is the whole Fortnite dance fiasco? Every piece of it would've sounded like absolute lunacy just ten years ago.
One: that there's a video game based on equal parts shooting and construction, and it's being played by tens of millions of people at any given time. Two, that the pop culture-inspired dances of its avatars are such a huge deal that they make headlines. Three, that those headlines are about how the game's creators are constantly being sued by the stars of viral videos and memes for allegedly stealing their dance moves.
Remember that guy on a local CW affiliate who tossed on a black leotard, popped a jack-o'-lantern over his head and danced like no one was watching?
The footage went viral and was seen by millions. It was so popular that it became a Fortnite emote, which is the closest thing humanity has to an Embarrassment Hall of Fame. Like rapper 2 Milly, Backpack Kid, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar Alfonso Ribeiro before him, dancing jack-o'-lantern guy (whose real name is Matt Geiler) is trying to sue Epic for use of a dance he created. The only problem is that the US Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that a person can sue for copyright infringement over the use of a dance they created only after they've registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Given the precedent, it seems like Geiler is setting himself up for failure. But Geiler's case is a little different because, again, our modern times are an early 20th-century surrealist painter's opium nightmare made real. When the Fortnite version of the dance begins, a jack-o'-lantern appears over the player's head. You can plainly see that in the video below, wherein the dance is looped continuously for an hour, after which the viewer will commence their subliminally suggested stabbing rampage.
Epic had actually entered into a licensing deal with Geiler for use of the dance... but not his likeness. By which we do not mean his face, but rather that costume ripped straight from an ensemble cast member of a Christian haunted house where the spookiest ghoul of them all is premarital sex. Geiler argues that the dance and the jack-o'-lantern combine to form a recognizable character that he created and copyrighted. And he might be right: Geiler might just be the spandex-clad Superman the ragtag Justice League of silly viral dancers needs to lead them to victory.
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