Scrolling through Instagram a few weeks back, I saw my favourite dancers from Dancing with the Stars frozen like mannequins as the camera panned over them. The song in the background of the video was Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles featuring Gucci Mane. I didn’t know the song previously, but after I heard it once, I noticed it again and again as I saw more #mannequinchallenge videos showing up on my social media feeds.
What the heck is the mannequin challenge anyway?
Despite what I thought, the mannequin challenge is truly just a viral video trend and not a fundraiser like the ALS Ice bucket challenge that went viral in 2014. According to Google, it is believed that the challenge started in Jacksonville Florida by some high school students on October 12, 2016. The students were playing around with mannequin poses, not unlike the ones you see in the mall at Old Navy, took a video of it, hashtagging it #mannequinchallenge on Twitter and Instagram. It quickly caught on, first with many other high school students copying and posting it, and then quickly spreading across the country.
It’s been over a month and now many celebrities and groups are participating in the challenge, making more elaborate and longer videos. James Corden of the Late Late Show did a 2-minute 30-second video that involved his show crew in the backstage area, and the studio audience.
Many sports figures across the world have done variations of the challenge involving locker rooms, sportscasters, crew, and crowds. One of my favourites came from the Portugal National Football Team—can you say ‘hot bodies?’—with Cristiano Ronaldo in their locker room.
Even Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton got in on the action posting a video taken on her campaign with various members of her staff, her husband Bill Clinton and celebrity Jon Bon Jovi, the night before the election. Hashtagging anything with #mannequinchallenge during this wave of interest will be certain to garner a lot of views.
There is no predicting how long the #mannequinchallenge will be around, as viral internet trends tend to come and go fairly quickly. However, the nature of this movement is simply fun, and with everyone in the world having access to create videos on their mobile devices, it’s easy to participate and become a part of the movement. The artist Rae Sremmurd has become synonymous with the mannequin challenge, even pausing a concert on November 5th to do a mannequin challenge live on stage.
My own kids have been watching mannequin challenge videos for a few weeks, and are planning and scheming their own creative to do with their friends at their dance studio. While I don’t think I will be posting my own video, I hope that the Fall of 2016 will be remembered by more than the US election with the light-hearted and fun #mannequinchallenge.