In “Bird Box,” Sandra Bullock leads two children, all blindfolded because of a mysterious danger, on a journey to safety. The movie, which received mixed reviews, became an well for memes over the holidays. Netflix announced that 45 million people had viewed it on the platform in the first seven days since its release.
And then, just as Bullock became known as “the lady from ‘Bird Box’” in a bunch of memes, doing things on camera while blindfolded for laughs has become the “Bird Box” challenge.
That challenge prompted a warning from Netflix on Wednesday to not take the joke too far.
“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE,” Netflix tweeted from its official account.
“We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”
Welcome back to one of the most reliable phenomena on the internet: a news story about a viral challenge that is 1) dangerous and 2) said to be loved by teens. At the beginning of 2018, people were freaking out over the idea of the “Tide Pod Challenge,” or eating Tide Pods on camera for views. The challenge started as a meme that involved joking about eating Tide Pods, which look like a cartoon dessert. And then, a few teens ate them for views, and the challenge became a weekslong news topic.
But the “Bird Box” challenge is a bit different from the Tide Pod challenge.
The “Bird Box” challenge really has gone viral, to some extent. And the warnings about its dangers are mainly aimed at those who would take it too far, of which there are plenty of examples.
The #BirdBoxChallenge hashtag started showing up within days of the movie’s release on Netflix. One early video, recirculated on a few meme accounts, shows a dad accidentally walking his toddler into a wall while trying to recreate one of the movie’s blindfolded scenes. Another mildly viral early adopter shows a group walking down a Brooklyn street. The video is staged to make it appear as if one participant bolts from the group and falls down the stairs of a subway station.
There are plenty of examples of people doing the meme without putting themselves in immediate peril, or pretending to. Another variation involves re-creating a scene where the movie’s evil force imitates the voice of someone important to the blindfolded family to trick them into looking:
A lot of the early videos feature families doing the challenge together, which is what happens when something like this goes viral on the internet over a holiday break.
Viral challenges have a way of encouraging participants to one-up each other in an endless quest for views — and this meme about a Netflix movie is no exception.