Wednesday Adams takes nothing for granted. The most stoic and deliberate member of the Addams family, he rarely makes unnecessary gestures, including smiling and blinking.
So when the spirit of dancing took over her school dance in the new Netflix series that bears her name, it caused an immediate stir, on and off screen.
The brief scene makes up less than three minutes of the entire series, but it quickly becomes “Wednesday’s” most iconic moment for how free-spirited our plucky protagonist seems. His eyes betray a rare, cruel passion. His limbs, usually glued to his side, fall freely. The dance is certainly his. lots of hard moves and hints of past decades. Surely, no one can mistake Wednesday’s dance with the latest trend on TikTok, right?
Something about that peculiar dance opened up something strange in all of us, and it went out faster than a Chippewa camp fire. Choreography videos inspired viewers to watch the series, making it one of the host’s most-watched shows ever (“Stranger Things,” anyone?). Its online popularity topped Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” more than a decade after the song’s release, and it was only featured on fan-made TikToks, not on the show itself. “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega’s admission that she made the routine herself has invited new fans, including celebrities, to jump on it and even infuse the routine with steps from their own cultures.
On Wednesday, Adams would likely be upset if he found out that his moves had become, tremblemainstream, but his dance just won’t die – and that, he can just enjoy. This is what gives the Wednesday dance its supernatural staying power.
“The Wednesday dance scene only started a month ago, but it already has a certain ‘mythology,'” said Jenna Drenten, an associate professor of marketing at Loyola University in Chicago who studies how users of TikTok and other digital platforms express themselves. identity.
Much of the scene was developed off-screen. Ortega, who plays teenager Wednesday with a subtle touch of black humor, said she choreographed the routine. He to count Influenced by Bob Fosse, Siusi Siew, and 80s goth dance clubs (he may have sneakily referenced the 60s TV series The Adams Family).
Furthermore, Ortega admitted that she is not a trained dancer, making her routine more inviting to non-dancers who have found the routine on TikTok, Drenten said.
“I’m not a dancer and I’m sure that’s obvious,” Ortega told NME.
But Ortega’s dedication also inspired anger. he told NME that he filmed part of the dance while awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test, which later came back positive. This prompted some to condemn the production for not following proper Covid-19 prevention protocols on set, but “Wednesday” continued to make waves nonetheless.
The viral trends that stay in the cultural conversation the longest usually don’t just stay on their platform of origin, Drenten said. Look at “Child of the Corn”. she appeared in a YouTube series singing the bowl, then videos of her appearance went viral on TikTok, and she’s continued to work ever since. ChipotleGreen Giant and the State of South Dakota in Offline Corn Promotion.
“To have a longer shelf life, TikTok trends need to make that leap into a cultural trend outside of TikTok,” he said. “Wednesday Dance had an advantage in this regard because the dance and the legacy of The Addams Family originated outside of TikTok in the first place.”
“Wednesday” dance has something else on its side: the human tendency to learn dance for social currency.
Think “Electric Slide,” “Macarena,” “Cupid Shuffle,” bat mitzvah and wedding standards, moves most of us know so well we can pull them off without thinking. Performing them en masse at such an event might seem like a Pavlovian response to a DJ’s song selection, but it’s also a shared ritual that fosters “a sense of solidarity and belonging,” Drenten said.
“Each gesture and movement allows the performer to say in a unique way. “I understand, I’m aware, we have this shared experience,” Drenten said.
That’s why dance routines from “Renegade” to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” dominate TikTok so often. But, contrary to those trends, the “Wednesday” dance wasn’t to a popular song, although The Cramps’ punk anthem “Goo Goo Muck” has since gained new fans. Drenten said the moves were easy enough, “straightforward but unique.”
But it took Lady Gaga to catapult “Wednesday” into the dance stratosphere. A popular version on TikTok is a sort of “fantasy cam” or series of videos that go along with Gaga’s “Bloody Mary,” a biblical ode to uninhibited dancing. Even Mother Hresh performed the “Wednesday” dance version with two long braids.
Millions of users have since put their own spin on the Wednesday school dance solo, with some users incorporating Polynesian or Indian dance styles into their versions or creating their own Wednesday look (including the disembodied hand).
Belonging, of course, is at odds with the ethos of Wednesday, who never cares about fitting in. He’s perfectly content on his own island where the sun never shines and old-time torture instruments abound. Wednesday’s idiosyncratic moves have been so widely copied as to threaten to diminish his status as the patron saint of queers, except that Wednesday’s style and attitude have been copied for decades.
Wednesday Addams has been around in some form since the late 1930s, first as a nameless comic character, then as a toddler on a television sitcom, then in her most famous iteration before the premiere of “Wednesday” as the dead-eyed Christina Ricci. And Wednesday’s fans have been dressing like him for decades, Drenten said, often inspired by Ritchie’s character. Addams’ eldest child is no longer a secret her biggest fans can keep from mainstream pop culture.
Since his debut on Wednesday, he’s been an icon of sorts for singles and goth neighbors alike for his unapologetic commitment to the macabre. Yet she is still “unique” among women and girls in fiction, wrote Emily Alford for Longreads, because she never softened or leaned toward certain narratives. He is who he is and he is not changing.
“She brought to the screen a morbid arrogance that set her apart and became an important blueprint for a generation of girls developing their own gallows humor,” Alford wrote.
And now, many of those girls and other users are finding each other on TikTok, where local communities can flourish (or reach mainstream users). The app is “a space for people to discover who they are and, more importantly, to find other people who share their same interests,” Drenten said, even if those interests include cosplaying as a certain dispassionate teenager.
“TikTok definitely encourages a lot of reproduction, and users can feel pressured to act, perform, and look a certain way,” Drenten said. “But Wednesday reminds people that being in that sea of sameness is freedom.”