Netflix has warned fans against participating in a potentially dangerous online challenge that’s inspired by its recent original horror film Bird Box.
The challenge takes the core concept of Bird Box — wearing a blindfold at all times while wandering around outside — and applies it to a certain period of time. Some people, like YouTube creator Morgan Adams, have tried to go about their daily lives for 24 hours while blindfolded, while others have attempted the challenge for a shorter period.
Netflix’s social media team called out the challenge on Twitter, asking people to not hurt themselves while performing the act.
“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE,” the official Netflix account tweeted. “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.”
It’s an ironic situation for Netflix to be in. Part of Bird Box’s immense success stems from the instantaneous memes it spawned within days of being released. Without memes and a constant discussion about the movie online, Bird Box may not have reached the record-breaking numbers that it accomplished, including being the most-watched Netflix original within its first seven days of release.
But no person or company has control over the online challenges that spawn from popular movies or songs, which can become a problem when dangerous ones emerge. Netflix doesn’t have any ownership of the challenge its movie has produced in the same way that Drake had no ownership of people jumping out of cars while driving to take part in the “In My Feelings” challenge last year.
Netflix was more than happy with the harmless Bird Box memes that helped propel the movie into stardom, but supporting that level of fan service comes with consequences. Once something like the Bird Box challenge starts trending, more and more people want to get involved. Someone starts a challenge on Facebook or Instagram, it becomes a hit among teens on apps like TikTok, and then it winds up on YouTube where creators with millions of followers take advantage of a trending hashtag in an attempt to reach more viewers.
The cost of producing a worldwide phenomenon, like Bird Box or “In My Feelings,” is realizing that there’s no ownership of whatever trend comes next. It exists online, and therefore everything is free game. Whereas Drake celebrated the challenge by including it in his lengthy music video for the song and performing it onstage, Netflix has taken a different route, essentially asking people to stop.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Bird Box belongs to the internet now, and this is what people want to do.