The Beauty of Bird Box

Jaclyn Narleski ‘20

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With the start of 2019 came a new rush of memes and challenges for all social-media users to enjoy.  Whether it might be the hilarious parodies of Ariana Grande’s hit song “Thank You, Next”, the original caption of “they did surgery on a grape”,  or the ever notorious moth picture, the Internet never fails to update us with the latest viral comedy. Netflix’s original horror-thriller film Bird Box, starring actress Sandra Bullock, created one of the most significant memes so far.  

Bird Box takes place in a world invaded with creatures, whom the audience never actually views, that cause humans to commit suicide once they see these monsters.  Bullock plays Malorie, a woman who manages to survive for five years in this presumed “apocalypse.” The film’s plot follows Malorie and her experiences at the beginning of the attack to the present, where she attempts to safely bring her and two   children under her custody to a sanctuary She must do this all while blindfolded to escape the creatures’ harmful presence.

There have been several fan theories trying to uncover film’s true meaning following its release. Many speculate that the monsters in Bird Box “represent depression” since “we so often blind ourselves” to “the struggles people around us face” [1].  To go along with this theory, some of the characters are believed to represent “different reaction to mental illnesses” [1].  On the contrary, some claim that the whole film represents the “external fears and dangers and…the conflict and loneliness of motherhood” [1].  Annabel DelGiorno ‘20 watched the film, and agrees that “There’s definitely allusions to depression and how our society deals with it. But I don’t think that aspect contributes to the entire theme.”  No matter which theory is correct, all viewers of Bird Box agree that the actual film did a poor job with piecing together its plot smoothly, providing character development, and depicting these potential representations in an integrated, tasteful way.  For example, viewers thought that “by using the effect of ‘going crazy’ to convey the terrors of the [creatures], the film is stigmatizing anyone with any mental illness and turning them into a monster without any subtlety” [2].  So while Bird Box didn’t get the best reviews and even faced some backlash, it still managed to blow up the meme community.  How was this possible?

The Internet essentially decided to tear apart Bird Box for all its flaws.  Many memes consist of poking fun at the lack in character backgrounds and the fact that Bird Box is eerily similar to the plot of horror-thriller film A Quiet Place.  However, the majority of Bird Box memes are based off the infamous blindfold Sandra Bullock dons for the movie. Bullock has been dubbed the “bird lady”, and a picture of her blindfolded with various funny captions are featured all across meme pages.  “Even though I never even saw the movie, I love looking at all the memes.  They’re so funny!” says Thomas Kabamalan ‘19.  However, upon the release of Bird Box, the #birdboxchallenge also came to life, where people began blindfolding themselves in an attempt to reenact Bird Box in the most comedic way possible.  Of course, there are some “bird-brains” out there, and some of these challenge attempts led to accidents when people decided to drive blindfolded.  A person driving blind is an extreme danger to the roads, which is why some of these accidents have even caused death.

All in all, the film Bird Box wasn’t necessarily appealing in itself: it was just yet another scapegoat for the Internet to come up with new, funny content.  As a viral meme, Bird Box has not necessarily left any serious impact it’s producers might have intended in the first place.  However, it blew up our social media platforms! Who knows what film might fall victim next?

 

[1] https://www.popbuzz.com/tv-film/news/bird-box-mental-health-stigma-illness-netflix/

[2] https://popculture.com/streaming/2018/12/29/netflixs-bird-box-draws-mixed-reviews-from-critics/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/nov/14/bird-box-review-sandra-bullock-netflix-susanne-bier

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