'The Backpack Kid' sues video games Fortnite and NBA 2K for stealing his 'Floss' dance
Yesterday we learned that 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' star Alfonso Ribeiro was suing the video games Fortnite and NBA 2K for stealing his signature 'Carlton Dance.' Is it possible to copyright a dance? We'll have to wait for the courts to decide, and it looks like they'll be busy: 'The Backpack Kid' is the latest star to sue those video games, claiming they unfairly used his 'Floss' dance, and are profiting off of it.
In case you're out of the loop, the multi-player zombie apocalypse game Fortnite is one of the biggest phenomenons of the year. In Battle Royale mode, up to a hundred players face off, using their fort-building skills and shooting skills to see who's the last one standing. While the game is free to play, you can purchase dance emotes to customize your character and taunt your opponents. Some dance are based on viral sensations, like Turk's Poison dance from Scrubs, Ribeiro's Carlton Dance from Fresh Prince and, yes, The Backpack Kid's floss.
It's pretty obvious that Fortnite's 'Fresh emote' is based on the Carlton Dance from Fresh Prince. However, in a 2013 interview with BuzzFeed, Alfonso Ribeiro explained that his dance was actually inspired from two other dances: "There was a video of Bruce Springsteen and Courtney Cox called 'Dancing in the Dark', and Bruce Springsteen pulls her up onto the stage and she basically does that dance... It was also from Eddie Murphy's 'Delirious' comedy video where he does 'The White Man Dance.' What I did was ultimately take those two dances and combined them and made it my own, and made it my character's."
Does The Carlton Dance, then, count as original? Can you claim a dance by popularizing it, even if you didn't create it? What am I doing wasting my life writing articles, when I could be creating viral dances? So many questions!
'The Backpack Kid,' aka 16-year-old Russell Horning, earned notoriety dancing on Instagram, the shot to fame after on Saturday Night Live, appearing during Katy Perry's performance of Swish Swish. The Georgia native does the Floss, a dance where you swing your arms and hips in unison, while alternating swinging your arms behind your back. An Inside Edition story about Horning was viewed over 35 million times in a year, inspiring many imitators, including football player T.J. Watt during a Pittsburgh Steelers game and The Daily Show's Trevor Noah in YouTube Rewind.
However, according to Know Your Meme, Russell Horning is not the first person to do 'The Floss.' The website states: "The earliest known example of the dance was posted on October 14th, 2012 in a video entitled You Are Beautiful – Grantsville West Stake (One Direction Lip Dub). At about three minutes into the video, a man does the dance. The post received more than 427,000 views in six years (shown below)."
Since Russell Horning is under 18, his mother, Anetta Horning, sued Epic Games and Take Two Interactive, who own Fortnite and NBA 2K. He is the third plaintiff to sue the companies, the other two being Alfonso Ribeiro and rapper 2 Milly, who says they ripped off his Milly Roc dance. All three plaintiffs say they have not copyrighted their dances yet, but they're working on it. One small (or big?) distinction: The Floss dance was not available for purchase in Fortnite; rather, it was given as a reward for season 2 Battle Royale.
Has anyone copyrighted the Macarena yet?