The future is uncertain, and on many days it can feel bleak. We’re barreling towards catastrophic climate change, for instance. Social media has become a catalyst for the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation. The U.S. is deeply politically divided. And, of course, there’s still a rapidly evolving virus circulating and killing people worldwide. But amid it all, some are thinking ahead.
TikTok user @sunday.nobody has done all he could to ensure that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, at least, survive well into the future. The “meme artist” has racked up more than 10 million views on a video of him entombing a single bag of the crunchy snack in a handmade concrete sarcophagus, and burying it underground. “Historical artifact buried below. Do not open for 10,000 years. Year buried 2022,” reads the plaque placed over the Cheetos’ resting place.
“This is how I made a 3,000 pound sarcophagus and put a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on the inside of it, and then dug a big hole and buried it underground for future civilizations to find,” @sunday.nobody says at the very beginning of the 3-minute long video. And the TikTok delivers as promised: it documents exactly how the 28-year old molded and poured a concrete box, encased a bag of spicy corn snacks in resin, and buried the whole thing underground with the help of a tractor.
Keep in mind that, in the present, when anyone digs up something human from 10,000 years ago, it is usually pretty big news. In 7968 B.C.E. the Earth was just exiting the last Ice Age. Agriculture was still relatively new—people living in the Americas hadn’t yet domesticated the corn necessary to extrude a Cheeto.
Over the next 10,000 years, other massive climate and societal shifts are all but guaranteed. There’s no evidence that the Hot Cheeto sarcophagus can make it to that avowed benchmark (especially considering modern, reinforced concretes only have a lifespan of a few decades and plastics like the resin break down in less than a millennium). What counts though, is the attempt.
You can say that this is silly. It’s undoubtedly absurd. The process took the @sunday.nobody four months to complete and cost the TikToker $1,200, as reported by Insider. But this is art. It’s a creation born from the imagination of someone who exacted their vision for a public audience.
And this Gizmodo reporter is far from the first to say so. A cursory Google search turns up numerous think-pieces on if and how internet jokes are a new offshoot of Dadaism. “Shitposting is an art,” one headline declares. Another reads: “Absurdist internet humor is an artistic movement.” There’s lots of room for discussion and debate in there, but the point is that people are talking about it. Entire academic fields are developing, devoted to the study of online culture. The internet provides new platforms for artists, but also offers new modes of making and interpreting art. TikTok is clearly one of them.
“Once I put my art out online, it’s no longer mine,” @sunday.nobody told Insider. It becomes part of the internet for others to view, reinterpret, and respond to, “morphing it into something exciting,” he added. His favorite comment response on the video so far? This note from @kat.aliseee: “They’ll either think we worshipped Hot Cheetos, or that they destroyed us all. Either way, they’ll be correct.”
In 10,000 years I will be dead, Gizmodo will be gone, and the Hot Cheetos will probably be returned to the Earth. But I bet that in 50 years, assuming we still have art history, this TikTok will end up referenced in a class somewhere. It’s a masterpiece, after all.