Screengrab via YouTube.

Where Did That Crazy Video of Warhol Eating Burger King Come From?

The video was part of Danish director JØrgen Leth’s 1982 film “66 Scenes from America.”

by Emma Specter
|
Feb 4 2019, 3:54pm

Screengrab via YouTube.

It’s hard to set your commercial apart from the pack during the Super Bowl, a night that featured famous males from Jason Bateman to Steve Carrell to A-Rod himself. Burger King was so determined to get people talking about its ad, though, that they deputized no less an art-world luminary than Andy Warhol into Sunday night’s football-beers-’n’-burgers cultural conversation.

The 45-second video features Warhol methodically removing a Whopper from a now-vintage Burger King bag, unwrapping it, dousing it with Heinz ketchup and consuming it. His only line? “It doesn’t come out,” referring to the ketchup. (Owned, Heinz.) During a Super Bowl that relentlessly prioritized the future, featuring AI-heavy ads for everything from Amazon’s Alexa to the hilariously Black Mirror-esque Mirror “interactive home gym,” it was almost comforting to see the familiar, inscrutable countenance of Warhol chowing down as Burger King flashed back to the past.

The video is not a feat of Forrest Gump-level visual effects, but rather perhaps the most famous scene from Danish director JØrgen Leth’s 1982 film 66 Scenes from America, a documentary that chronicles Leth’s road trip across America in the form of visual postcards. Leth is one of the most prominent figures in experimental documentary filmmaking, best-known for his 1968 short The Perfect Human, which was later remade five different times in Leth and collaborator Lars Von Trier’s 2003 documentary The Five Obstructions. Other scenes from 66 Scenes from America include shots of the Arizona sun and a bottle of Wild Turkey.

Burger King’s only edit to the Leth film was shortening it down from 4+ minutes to 45 seconds (and the “#EatLikeAndy” hashtag that appears onscreen at the end.) "One of the things that was unique about the negotiation was that we didn't want to change or touch the film in any way that would take away from its original intent," Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King's global head of brand marketing, told AdAge, adding, "We knew that the best thing we could do would be to keep the film as intact as we could." Check out the full video below.

Knowing the film’s origins, the only question that remains is how Warhol would have felt about being used to sell burgers. The answer? He would have f*cking loved it! Don’t forget, this is the man who transfigured brands into art on a regular basis, who biographer Bob Colacello speculated would be “dating Kim Kardashian” if he were alive today; Warhol would likely have been thrilled at having his perhaps-apocryphal fifteen minutes of fame extended by Burger King. A decades-long retrospective of his work at the Whitney? Snore. The chance to enjoy a burger on national television during the Super Bowl? Now that’s Warholian.

Tagged:
america
super bowl
Andy Warhol
Burger King
Jørgen Leth