In Western culture, Egypt seems to be the best place to trace lithe, high glamour, iconic posing, and so it seems fitting that a certain style of freeze frame dancing would be dubbed as “tutting” (as in “King Tut” or Pharoah Tutankhamen).
In October of 2009, a person who calls himself JayFunk Finger posted at YouTube his variation on iconic Egyptian posing, using his fingers. JayFunk Finger didn’t originate the art form, but of what’s been posted on YouTube (since about 2007), he does it most impressively and creatively.
Very cool. It went viral. And don’t you know what happened next? That’s right. A corporation—Samsung—approached JayFunk finger to do a commercial. And here it is:
While I’m happy to see a student make a bit of money on some ad work, I’m nevertheless a bit uneasy about the commercial. It seems like the shift from authenticity to marketing is so easy (and completely accepted culturally). The hippies experienced the same appropriation. Bob Dylan, for example, famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) did an ad for Cadillac.
So somebody comes up with something new and beautiful and it gets cannibalized for money-making, changing its spontaneous heart character. It makes something living, dead. That’s American (I suppose).
And in this instance of finger tutting, the added graphics in the commercial somehow make it not only less alive, but positively robotic.
Maybe I’m just being a purist and naive. I’m sure that if I ever created something new and beautiful, and an advertising Mephistopheles approached me, I’d jump at the chance to make some extra bucks. But still. Is there anything beautiful in this world that the Moloch of money-grubbing reproduction doesn’t grab hold of and transform into itself?
American democracy was once conceived of as a beautiful thing, and now look what corporate money has done to that.
In a way, JayFunk Finger has become King Midas. What he fingers turns to gold.
I wonder if he has any ambivalence about that.