“The Carlton” dance, so named for Alfonso Ribeiro’s 1990s Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air character, never really left the public consciousness. The infectious, arm-swinging jig did, however, enjoy a renewed burst of popularity in 2014 when Ribeiro performed the dance on Dancing With The Stars. He later told Variety about how he created the dance (which was generally set to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” on Fresh Prince) and did this live performance “all for the fans,” despite his most famous role being part of the reason that he was pigeonholed and couldn’t find other acting work.
Ribeiro has since scored a gig hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC, but he’s got a bone to pick with Epic Games, which allegedly snagged The Carlton for its Fortnight game for players to use after victorious “Battle Royale” segments. Epic Games apparently renamed the move as “The Fresh” and sells it for $5 as one of dozens of dance moves available. Here’s a clip of The Fresh as used in the game.
Ribeiro’s Monday court filings accuse the company of exploiting his “protected creative expression” to “unfairly profit” from his dance’s popularity. Here’s more lawsuit language:
“”Twenty-seven years later, The Dance remains distinctive, immediately recognizable, and inextricably linked to Ribeiro’s identity, celebrity, and likeness … Epic has consistently sought to exploit African-American talent, in particular in Fortnite, by copying their dances and movements and sell them through emotes.”
The two lawsuits filed by Ribeiro also discuss how Epic Games is promoting the dance segments, including his own creation, through the use of hashtags and endorsements. Unfortunately, Ribeiro hasn’t yet copyrighted The Carlton (CNN specifies that he’s in the process of doing so) — an omission that could limit any monetary damages that he’d receive from the past. However, he may still be able to halt any future use of the dance in Fortnight and score justice on behalf of bad (yet lovable) dances everywhere.
And here’s a video of Ribeiro doing his thing on DWTS. Enjoy!