The now-viral #MannequinChallenge has flooded social media in recent weeks, but the eerie resemblance it has with a popular Twilight Zone episode is arguably even more impressive.
What exactly is the #MannequinChallenge? For those unfamiliar with the trending hashtag, or who simply have not checked their social media feeds recently, it basically requires everyone featured in the recording to appear frozen like, well, mannequins.
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At its core, the #MannequinChallenge follows the basic viral flash mob concept of recording a group of people participating in the same activity in a beautifully choreographed routine. Think about the “Harlem Shake” craze of 2013, but turn off that addictively catchy song and make everyone freeze in place with the camera rolling — moving throughout the room as it captures close-up shots of the mannequinesque participants.
Quite a few celebrities — including Kevin Hart — have contributed to the #MannequinChallenge with shared footage of their own in a variety of different settings.
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However, the concept of the #MannequinChallenge is definitely nothing new. Long before viral videos even existed, a particular Twilight Zone episode captivated the attention of fans and critics alike with an impressive ensemble of mannequin-like people.
The Twilight Zone episode “Elegy” was the 20th episode featured in the first season of the series created and narrated by Rod Serling.
Istagrovie • The Twilight Zone EP0120 Elegy . pic.twitter.com/Hkedczml
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“Elegy,” which originally aired on February 19, 1960, highlighted the creative genius of the episode’s writer — the late Charles Beaumont — and the artistic guidance of director Douglas Heyes.
The episode’s synopsis posted on IMDB shines a little light on the episode (along with its early traces of the #MannequinChallenge without giving away any major spoilers).
“Three astronauts touch down on an asteroid, where they discover a world of people that appear to be frozen in time. Confused, they theorize as to why everyone is motionless, until a man springs to life and explains.”
As the Twilight Zone episode progresses, what could be viewed as the 1960 version of the #MannequinChallenge really hits its jaw-dropping climax as the astronauts explore their surroundings. After observing a frozen farmer and smiling fisherman, the astronauts follow the sound of music to a nearby mayoral inauguration ceremony — filled with frozen spectators, band members holding their instruments in mid-air, and a smiling politician standing at the top of the staircase.
No lie the some of the #MannequinChallenge look like the beginning of an eerie Twilight Zone episode….& I love it!
— Ciji Campbell (@cijicamp) November 4, 2016
People participating in the viral #MannequinChallenge on social media today have to stand still for a few seconds — minutes at the most — especially if the person operating the camera moves from person to person without delay.
However, many of the actors and actresses that starred as the mannequin-like extras in this Twilight Zone episode had to remain “frozen” for much longer stints — especially during the scenes where the astronauts had lengthy dialogue.
“Elegy” was definitely not the only Twilight Zone episode written by Charles Beaumont. He was reportedly credited for writing over 20 different episodes for the five-season series. Working alongside fellow writer and frequent collaborator Richard Matheson, Beaumont was able to masterfully blur the lines of fantasy and reality while finding clever ways to teach profound lessons along the way in many of his Twilight Zone episodes, and other published writings in general.
— The Twilight Zone (@TheNightGallery) July 4, 2016
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Charles’ son, Chris Beaumont, opened up in a past interview about his father’s tenure with The Twilight Zone and his family’s reaction to watching his work on the small screen week after week.
“I remember my father referring to the ‘Twilight Zone’ as a gift. I think he knew how fortunate he, and Rod, and Rich Matheson were to have found a place that so suited their style of writing. Those years were quite magical around our house. I remember the excitement that built each week, whether it was one of dad’s or Rich’s, or whomever. I think they all felt a part of something wonderful.”
Over five decades have passed since The Twilight Zone ended its original series run in 1964. However, thanks to occasionally televised marathons and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, The Twilight Zone will more than likely continue to be enjoyed by future generations.
When you pay attention to the rising popularity of the #MannequinChallenge, it is clear that traces of The Twilight Zone are influencing other artistic aspects of pop culture and social media today as well.
[Featured Image by AP Photos]