How the Mannequin Challenge Inventors Froze America

High schoolers in Jacksonville taught 2 Chainz to love memes.


If there’s one way to get a bunch of teens to work together, it’s by challenging them with the latest internet trend. This week, that trend is the Mannequin Challenge which involves filming a group of people holding outrageous poses, creating a sort of Zach Snyder/Zach Morris frozen action effect. The trend blew up this week, but the original video was posted on October 26 by a group of students from Edward H. White High School in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Me and my friends are always doing weird things,” Emili, the owner of the Twitter handle @thvtmelanin_, which seems to have started the whole thing, DMed Inverse. “One day I just went to the front of the class and stood there. That’s when my friend A’laynah said ‘Hey, you look like a mannequin.’ Then my friend Bre’Onna and Jasmine joined and we started doing all these crazy poses. These days there are so many ‘challenges’ on social media, which I guess made my friend Deryk suggest that we make it a challenge and basically we just added him as well as our friend A’laynah and Jalen to do it with us. Most of the poses came from typical poses that you would see in the mall or in Old Navy.”

The challenge picked up steam on Twitter and Instagram, going from high school cafeteria to high school gymnasium, to high school front steps and — in the course of doing so — took on a bit of the school spiritedness of a pep rally.

“I think people love it so much, because it’s something anybody can do versus learning the latest dance or something,” Emili wrote. “We love watching other people do the challenge because some people get really creative with it. Sometimes, I even wonder how they pull off some these stunts, but it’s just fun to watch and to see people you don’t even know, doing something you and your friends did is kind of cool.”

And sometimes it’s just astounding the number of people they’ve been able to get to all freeze at the same time.

It even looks like some teachers are getting involved.

The Mannequin Challenge has also made it to celebrities. “Black Beatles” rapper Rae Sremmurd somehow got an entire concert venue to participate. This exposure only adds to the trend’s momentum.

Even 2 Chainz knows about the Mannequin Challenge. And coincidentally enough, his new music video for “Countin” looks like the cast is also having a good time with it.

“Honestly when we posted it we thought it would be known around school and maybe other schools in our city,” Emili wrote. “We never expected celebrities such as Rae Sremmurd and 2 Chainz to find out about it and do it as well.”

Furthermore, the social media crazy has taken the sports world by storm. After the New York Giants defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the football team celebrated by accepting the challenge in the locker room.

The Dallas Cowboys partied after their win against the Cleveland Browns by executing their own intense #MannequinChallenge. It’s arguably better than Giants’ video since they were able to pull it off while on a plane. With major athletes and celebs now partaking, the challenge has gone full mainstream.

On Election Day, Hillary Clinton’s campaign team joined in on the internet sensation as a way to mobilize voters. At the end of the video they wrote, “Don’t stand still. Vote today.”

Other recent viral challenges include the Water Bottle Flip Challenge and the Condom Challenge, where teens filled a condom full of water and dropped it on a buddy’s head.

These challenges’ popularity speak to the internet’s power to transmit jokes and ideas all over. As Emili pointed out, the Mannequin Challenge was just something that came up organically while hanging out with friends. But the best jokes get passed around. And, these days, they get passed to 2 Chainz.

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