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“Numa Numa Guy.”

How does the trajectory of your ‘Visual Culture Phenomena’ represent ‘Appropriation’ and ‘Re-appropriation’?

Numa Numa is an Internet phenomena based on a video by American vlogger Gary Brolsma made after the song “Dragistea din tei” as performed by O-Zone. The original song was released in 2003 by the Moldovan-Romanian boy band O-Zone. Then, it was appropriated by Brolsma on December 6, 2004 on the website The video shows Brolsma lip-synching the hit song and lively gesticulating on it. “I didn’t plan to make the video,” Brolsma stated over a series of phone calls and emails to the Business Insider blog. The New Jersey native said he was bored, had his web cam on, and decided to make a funny video to send around to his friends. The video was the first Numa Numa-themed video to gain widespread attention. Less than three months after the release, it had been viewed more than two million times on the debut website alone. His video became very popular.

After the Numa Numa Guy went viral, the video was re-appropriated by the public and some celebrities shows.  Gary Brolsma appeared in South Park show in the Season Twelve episode, “Canada on Strike”, as the one of the internet celebrities waiting for their theoretical payments. He was famous for singing lip-syncing and his distinctive dance. During “Canada on Strike”, he fought Tron Guy while singing, but was eventually shredded up by Sneezing Panda’s mother.

Describe the concept of ‘Encoding and Decoding’ in relation to several levels of your selected ‘Visual Culture Phenomena.’

Argue the case for your Visual Culture Phenomena from one of the following three positions:

  • Dominant-hegemonic
  • Negotiated reading
  • Oppositional reading

According to our text book, Practices of Looking-An Introduction to Visual Culture by Marita Sturken \ Lisa Cartwright; “All images are encoded with meanings in their creation and production that is decoded by viewers”. In this case this phenomenon was dominant-hegemonic because the public can identify with the hegemonic position and receive the dominant message. This video was an inspiration for the U.S. Navy where they created a parody based on this event. Also, the video appeared in the you tube channel, “How do Children React to Internet Viral Videos?”. Many other versions were made based on the Numa Numa video; for example: Sonic, Super Mario Bros, My little Pony, and Sponge Bob. It was also presented in the American Idol animated show.

The “Numa Numa Guy” officially made his comeback on September 6, 2006 with “New Numa.” The video differed drastically from the original “Numa Numa Dance” with professional video production by Experience Studios and a custom song by Variety Beats. In conjunction with the new upload, Brolsma launched a contest for fans to make their own “New Numa” video and the 50 best videos received a total of $45,000 from the contest sponsors. Brolsma was happy with the finished product, but it never caught on like the original.

After the “New Numa” contest was over, Jaeter Corporation then set up a meeting between Gary Brolsma and Dan Balan, a former founding member of O-Zone. “He loved my video,” said Brolsma. With the massive rise in popularity of “Dragostea din tei” because of Brolsma’s “Numa Numa Dance,” Balan released a re-make of his song called “Sugar Tunes Numa Numa.” After the two did album and DVD signings at a FYE store in New York City, Brolsma got a chance to listen through Balan’s upcoming album. The “Numa Numa Guy” would gain more mainstream exposure in the subsequent years when he starred in a 2009 Geico ad and appeared in a 2010 Super Bowl television commercial for Vizio.

How does the trajectory and permutations of your selected ‘Visual Culture Phenomena’ relate to the concepts presented in Barthes ‘Death of the Author?’

We can see how the original video created by the Moldovan-Romanian boy band O-Zone turned to be more famous when it went viral with the performance of “Numa Numa” by Gary Brolsma. Then, the video became re-appropriated by the public and some celebrity shows. All this trajectory relates to the concepts presented in Barthes “Death of the Author”. In this book states “As soon as a fact is narrated no longer with a view to acting directly on reality but intransitively, that is to say, finally outside of any function other than that of the very practice of the symbol itself, this disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins”. In the case of the visual event that I choose, we are talking about a media event instead of a book. In both cases once the original work is being replicated whether with or without consent, the author job loses a lot of it origin.


Sturken, M. / Cartwright, L. (2009). Practices of Looking-An Introduction to Visual Culture, 2, (pg. 72-73).

Balzac, S. The Death of the Author, (pg. 142).