January 11, 2019

Netflix's stark warning to viewers: 'Don't end up in the hospital'

Daily Briefing

    Netflix in a tweet last week warned users that the viral "Bird Box" challenge—which involves doing tasks blindfolded like a character in the movie—can lead to injury and possible hospitalization.

    What is the Bird Box challenge?

    The challenge is inspired by Netflix's new hit movie "Bird Box," which 45 million people watched within a week of its release in late December, according to Netflix.

    In the film, the protagonist, played by Sandra Bullock, wears a blindfold when she walks outside to protect herself from an evil force that causes anyone who lays their eyes on it to die by suicide. To save herself and two children from the evil force, Bullock's character scavenges for food, runs through forests, and even rows a boat down a river while blindfolded.

    A few days after its release, videos and tweets referencing the "Bird Box" challenge started to appear on the internet. The challenge involves doing tasks blindfolded—like Bullock does.

    Some people filmed themselves doing ordinary activities indoors, but others were more risky.

    In one video, a man blindfolds himself and his toddler and begins pacing around the house—imitating the characters in the film. At one point, the toddler runs into a wall.

    In another video, a group of people in Brooklyn, New York, walk blindfolded along the sidewalk when one of them appears to fall down the stairs of the subway. Some people even filmed themselves driving—or pretending to drive—while blindfolded.   

    One video follows an aspiring challenger to the hospital after she broke her foot during a trial run, the Washington Post's "Internet Culture" reports.

    Netflix: Don't end up in the hospital

    According "Internet Culture," the videos are reminiscent of other dangerous, online challenges, such as the infamous Tide Pod Challenge, during which people perform dangerous tasks on camera for laughs or to one-up other challengers.

    But, Netflix doesn't see the humor in the popularity of the most recent viral challenge. 

    The company on Wednesday tweeted a warning to fans, telling them to "not hurt [them]selves with this bird box challenge." The streaming service said that it "appreciate[s] the love" for the film," but would prefer that fans "not end up in the hospital due to memes" (Geberer, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1/3; Deb, New York Times, 1/2; The Irish Times, 1/3; Collins, NBC New York, 1/2; Ohlheiser, "Internet Culture," Washington Post, 1/3).

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