Fortnite Has A Bad Bunny Emote Now and That’s A Big Deal

Games Features Fortnite
Fortnite Has A Bad Bunny Emote Now and That’s A Big Deal

A curious thing happened in Fortnite this last week. Mind you, it wasn’t any of the normal curiosities you’ve come to expect from Fortnite these days, like Attack on Titan‘s Eren Jaeger taking you out or trash falling from the sky and crushing you. It wasn’t even a thing that happened in the game per-se. I logged in and checked out the in-game store as I usually do, where I’ve amassed a small fortune of V-Bucks from subscribing to Fortnite Crew and progressing through battle passes of seasons past. What was different this time was that I found and bought an emote for a dance set to Bad Bunny’s “Tití Me Preguntó,” arguably the smash hit off of his world-dominating record of 2022, Un Verano Sin Ti.

The dance is nothing to write home about itself, with the model languidly doing a routine set to a portion near the end of the song. The big deal was that it was there at all and why the emote was front and center on the store page. On the other side of the country from me, Bad Bunny became the first Spanish-speaking headliner of Coachella, a gauche music festival I could never attend myself, but nonetheless brings in people from around the country and world. Coachella, which has been put on blast for its lack of diversity in the past, actually brought it (even if it brought it more the year prior) featuring the likes of Kali Uchis and Rosalia, who’ve both taken the world by storm in recent years and who alongside Bad Bunny and countless others, have solidified Latin music’s place in our culture. Though I grew up alongside reggaeton megahits like Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” and the ascendancy of Shakira, I’ve rarely seen so many Latin stars ascend quite so high altogether in the way I’m seeing these days.

When these music festivals rolls around, Fortnite tends to release all or most of its dance and music emotes onto the store for people to buy, and it’s then that you get a real display of how much Fortnite has taken over the world, or absorbed much of the world into itself as an attempt. For most of its life, Fortnite has amassed cultural touchstones much like Thanos hunted down the Infinity Stones in a bid to boost microtransaction sales and make sure that it is reflective of everything everywhere all the time. There’s no surer way to remain in the general consciousness than to buy your way to the top of it, though Fortnite and Epic didn’t start this campaign in the most ethically sound way. For several years, it’s primarily gotten by consuming hip-hop culture; Artists like Drake have multiple emotes and sound bites in the game. Travis Scott has in-game items as references to his own takeover of the game, which culminated in a mind-bending “concert,” and I cannot for the life of me escape the emote of DaBaby’s single “Bop,” which Epic Games has not so coincidentally vaulted since a string of controversies sprung up around the artist in 2021. Since those early days, the focus has shifted to adjacent cultures, like TikTok dances set to hip-hop music, and it isn’t hard to see how Epic then leapfrogged from ripping off viral dances to K-pop. I’m actually surprised we don’t have an emote for the Korean girl group NewJeans’ viral “OMG” dance yet, considering the density of the trend on TikTok and Instagram Reels, but it’s almost surely on the way. For now it seems like Epic may have landed on the latest musical giant that’s become impossible to ignore the last few years: the reemergence of Latin music via música urbana (latin urban music), namely reggaeton, dembow, and the exploding Latin trap scene.

Bad Bunny’s “Tití Me Preguntó” cameo isn’t the first time Latin music’s been featured in Fortnite or on the store. Perusing it some more, I found and bought at least one other emote reflective of Latin music’s takeover that borrows from Dominican artist Dixson Waz’s “Toco Toco To,” a song I’ve heard one too many times at clubs both in and outside of New York over the last year. Years ago, Fortnite introduced radio stations that brought musical acts ranging from indie bands like Good Kid to My Chemical Romance and The Weeknd into the game. A few months ago, while I was just casually driving a car in a match, I heard Karol G, whose song “Provenza” also blew up last summer, on the in-game radio. If it wasn’t obvious enough listening to the fictional radio in our games or that obnoxiously loud stereo outside your homes, Latin music is enjoying an almost unprecedented amount of attention and acclaim right now. If Fortnite‘s earliest forays in this field were Epic playing catch up, nowadays it’s clearly meeting the moment head on.

While it’s great to hear Bad Bunny and the rest of voices that capture the breadth of talent in Latin music in Fortnite, it’s also a bummer to see them pop up in this specific context. It’s always hard to part with something that feels like it’s uniquely yours and see it become part of the larger picture, especially when the larger picture is that someone is now going to sell me the ability to dance to my own people’s music in a digitally reconstructed, ever-changing fiction ultimately owned by a corporation hellbent on owning everything and blocking its workers unionization efforts. On one hand, something about expressing my culture (or ones adjacent to mine) at a cost dictated by people who don’t represent me feels dirty. On the other, it feels great to be able to be myself, or act as I would, through the avatar I’ve provided for countless years now. But this is making it in the world in 2023 and, should it come with every bitter caveat imaginable, I won’t deny the joy I get finally seeing people like myself at the top. Now…a Benito skin when?

Moises Taveras is the assistant games editor for Paste Magazine. He was that one kid who was really excited about Google+ and is still sad about how that turned out.

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