Netflix’s BIRD BOX Inspires a Silly and Dangerous Internet Challenge
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
Just in time for the end of year holidays, Netflix released a new horror/psychological thriller movie called BIRD BOX. Sandra Bullock (THE BLIND SIDE) stars as Mallory, a mother who must blindfold herself and her two young children to avoid eye contact with supernatural monsters that when looked at, force people to commit suicide. On December 27, Netflix revealed via Twitter that over 45 million subscribers worldwide had watched BIRD BOX, and as a result of millions seeing the movie, a social media challenge made its way online. The challenge, which began as a meme has people blindfolding themselves like Sandra Bullock does in the movie and attempting to do various things.
Many of the videos are innocent and are meant merely as silly jokes. Daytime talk shows like GOOD MORNING AMERICA even got in on the joke as co-host Michael Strahan attempted to put lipstick on his colleague Sara Haines. Others are a little more risky such as attempting to get on escalators blindfolded. Like many things do, the challenge escalated to people attempting dangerous stunts while blindfolded.
Attempting to stop things before they get to serious, Netflix released a message for Bird Box challengers on Twitter. It reads, “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. 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.”
Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. 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.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 2, 2019
The idea that many people will copy what they see in the media is something Movieguide® has been teaching for decades. It’s why we’re so adamant that studios need to consider the consequences of how their movies and TV programs will affect children, as well as why parents need to be strict about what they allow their children to consume. Netflix’s series 13 REASONS WHY about a teenager who commits suicide sparked a heated debate over the shows influence on actual teenagers who took their life after watching the TV series.
The moral of this story is that while shows like BIRD BOX, 13 REASONS WHY and many other programs with objectionable content may not trigger all to self-harm, the content can have a detrimental impact on viewers that are susceptible to those ideas, or temptations. As the media continues to reach millions across the world, it’s so vital that we practice discernment and urge others to positive measures towards health and well-being.
It’s likely that in the coming weeks, the #BirdBoxChallenge will come to an end as people move on to the next video, image or meme that’s gone viral. Yet, for those that are inspired to act out of impulse and find themselves hurt, the moment lives on for a long time. This is why media discernment among families, and among filmmakers and studio executives is as important as ever.
Our review of BIRD BOX is available here.
Update: Deadline reports that the #BirdBoxChallenege has prompted YouTube to crack down on videos that showcase any perilous activity or pranks that could result “risk serious danger or death.”