By now just about everyone has heard of the Mannequin Challenge…
But just in case you have not, the idea is that a group of people stand frozen in motion while someone goes and around and records it to a song, most often the song “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd. It is believed to have been originated by some students in Jacksonville Florida on October 16, 2016. Since the birth of this new trend, The Mannequin Challenge has been filmed by thousands of people nationwide including several professional sports teams, Adele, Garth Brooks, Destiny’s Child, and even Michelle Obama with the Miami Heat.
The creativity ceiling for this challenge is unlimited. Participants have gone to great lengths to capture to a moment seemingly frozen in time. Even large flash mob type groups have participated at concerts and raves. It is believed that this challenge originated from similar sequences in movies such as The Matrix, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men Apocalypse, Lost in Space, and popular shows such as Westworld. This effect is known as bullet-time also known as adrenaline time, focus time, frozen time, or dead time, where the effects of time, space, and gravity are denied for several moments giving the viewer the ability to absorb all the creativity and action on the screen.
Ever since the rise of social media sharing sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Vine (R.I.P.) many trends and challenges have rose to prominence. Some or funny, some are stupid, and some are funny because they are stupid. These challenges–such as the Harlem Shake, Cinammon Challenge, Water Bottle Flip Challenge etc.– allow people to play with their creativity, satirize society, and capture a fun experience that everyone can feel a part of. However out of all of these challenges, The Mannequin challenge is far more philosophical.
Throughout history many authors and poets have talked about how time can be a great gift as well as a great curse. In William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60 he compares time to the waves that break upon the shore no matter what just as the minutes and hours tick with no regard to man’s interference. At first Time presents itself as a gift which crowns us at birth, makes us beautiful, and gives us the gifts and talents that make the world wonder at us. But then Time presents itself as a curse, running a spear through our youth and wrinkling and breaking down our bodies with its ‘cruel hand’. The paradox of time has been studied and expounded upon for centuries but the common conclusion that everyone seems to come to is that life is short and there’s not enough time. The book of James in the Bible expresses this idea quite poignantly:
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14 NIV.
Just like the smoke from a fire or the vapor from a boiling pot of water, our lives come and go in the blink of an eye when compared to vast expanse of time and space. It’s so important that we live our lives to the fullest every waking moment because we were not guaranteed today and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. That means that every second we spend on this earth is a gift and it would behoove us to use it wisely.
I believe that the Mannequin Challenge can be seen as a protest against time and its effects. It symbolizes the wish that we’ve all had at some point in our lives–that this moment; this feeling would never go away…
Yet time marches on.