Photo from Pinterest.com
By Vinny Ball
Let’s face it; 2016 sucked.
The ongoing conflict in Syria, terror attacks at home and abroad, the continued killing of unarmed black men by police, the deaths of cultural icons Muhammad Ali, David Bowie and Prince, and an exhausting election cycle that has left the country divided. But there’s a phenomenon sweeping across the internet world that should provide us with a respite from all that despair: the Mannequin Challenge.
There shouldn’t be anything complex about the Mannequin Challenge. It’s as simple as striking a pose and having the camera revolve around the frozen action, but if you want the internet to show some love, you’ll have to get creative. The men’s gymnastics team at Army did just that. In garner recognition the gymnasts froze themselves mid-acrobatics in one of the most impressive examples of the Mannequin Challenge.
The phenomenon, which started picking up steam in early November, is the latest viral trend to capture the internet’s short attention span. While many of these trends have a short shelf life – this one too will undoubtedly fall out of favor in a couple months – the one thing separating the Mannequin Challenge, aside from the legendary Paul McCartney’s participation, is the background music courtesy Rae Sremmurd’s song, “Black Beatles.”
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) November 10, 2016
The song, which earned the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 100 this week, had already proven itself as one of 2016’s catchiest pop songs, but was propelled to its current status after garnering extra popularity after becoming a staple in the Mannequin Challenge. Because the song features an arpeggiated synthesizer that swirls around the stereo field, it helps to set the mood for the dystopian undertones of the challenge.
Perhaps I’m reading into it too much, but those dystopian undertones present in the Mannequin Challenge speak to a larger issue. Although the trend is just what 2016 needed, it also represents how disconnected we’ve become from each other and our surroundings. It’s hard to find a public setting where at least one person doesn’t have their eyes fixated on a smartphone or laptop. The digital world has become an almost primary environment for some, not unlike a sci-fi film where people are split between two contrasting worlds.
The Mannequin Challenge represents the collision of these two worlds more than any Instagram photo or tweet is capable of. Simply put, the Mannequin Challenge is what happens when the sterility of the digital world begins to seep into the fabric of the physical world. And when the sterility has seeped too far, the physical world ends up being host to dogs with human traits.
— Ryan T (@Ryan_Thomas02) November 16, 2016
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