(Myth) What Does the Fox Say? (Ylvis)


[Spoiler alert] What does the fox say? I like a lot this little Youtube music-video clip. It was supposed to be a joke by the hosts of a Norwegian variety show. Then it went viral. More profound than meets the eye, it delves into the mystery of sentience and animal communication, the power of the imagination and the awakening shock of a metaphysical disappointment.

These are the secrets found in works by expressionist painter Franz Marc, mixed in with the nonsense articulations made famous by Dada. Deep in the night woods, we are entered into a Norse mythological landscape of dreams and imagination which can only be disappointed by the actual revelation, when, finally the fox reveals its true speech.

What is your sound? What do you say, the mystery of the fox? It starts, but without much conviction as the fox-masked singers can only imagine:


And then crazier, the articulations more ecstatic, as the human imagination carries the singers away still deeper into the night woods of the imagined forest space. A horse shakes its mane, morse code taps out, the animal-dancers dance, the grandpa howls.

A-hee-ahee ha-hee!

In the spirit, the spirit of utter transport, the fox-masked singers levitate off the ground, into space, more urgently. And then the fox appears. And this, now the truth, this we finally learn is what the fox actually says in a simple and low voice. He stands up on his hind legs, does a little dance:



Abay-ba-da bum-bum bay-d

What a disappointment. We see the two singers from behind. The animal-dancers are gone. The singers walk alone out of the forest. It’s morning now. They’ve removed their masks, which now hang at their sides. Birds chirp in the morning light filtering in through the trees. My mother has another interpretation: “Morning light comes, the mysteries of the night are satisfied, all is well.” An excellent interpretation, it does not, however, account for the absence of exclamation points in the written transcript.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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1 Response to (Myth) What Does the Fox Say? (Ylvis)

  1. mads says:

    That’s a gloomy interpretation. Morning light comes, the mysteries of the night are satisfied, all is well.

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