I was catching up on some reading over the weekend and came across this article on Spike Jonze that got me lost down memory lane. In the late 1990s — almost twenty years to the day — Jonze was preparing his first feature film Being John Malkovich (1999) and listening to Fatboy Slim’s “The Rockefeller Skank" on repeat. As his obsession grew, so too did a vision of someone dancing to it on a crowded sidewalk.
One night after work Jonze "gathered a boombox, some dorky clothes and hair gel, and drove with a cinematographer to Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.” Switching on the track at full blast, Jonze proceeded to entertain a waiting crowd of movie-goers with some heart-felt white-boy moves. In only a matter of minutes Richard Koufey — Jonze’s goofy dance instructor alter ego — was born.
I remember watching this video at the advent of Youtube some ten years ago and being infected with the dancing bug, suddenly compelled to throw down some of these shameless moves. What I never knew was that Jonze sent this video to the artist himself who quickly realized that Jonze was the brains behind such music videos as The Beastie Boys ’Sabotage’, The Pharcyde’s ‘Drop' and Bjork’s ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’.
His fan-mail would lead to the 'official' video for Slim’s next single ‘Praise You’ which features Koufey, a busy sidewalk and the Torrance Community dance troupe. The video is a celebration of movement and a touching tribute to the ineptitude of norm-core white society.
While his on-screen dancing has sadly gone the way of the dodo bird, Jonze hasn't lost the art of compulsion with his latest TVC for Apple earlier this year (featuring a charismatic FKA Twigs swerving and jerking to Anderson Paak’s ''Til It’s Over’) leaving me all jittery and restless.
For any avid Jonze enthusiasts check out 'I'm Here', a short film featuring Andrew Garfield as a love-sick robot. It’s one beautiful bittersweet adventure.