Wednesday Addams doesn’t do anything by accident. The most stoic and deliberate member of the Addams Family, she rarely makes unnecessary movements, smiles and blinks included.
So when the dancing spirit possessed the typically moody teenager at her school’s dance in the new Netflix series bearing her name, it caused an immediate stir, on-screen and off.
The brief scene is less than three minutes in the entire series, but it quickly became “Wednesday’s” most iconic moment for how free our goofy protagonist seems to feel. His eyes betray a rare and macabre passion. His limbs, usually glued to his side, are thrown freely. The dancing is her, of course – lots of harsh, stuffy moves and hints of decades past. Surely no one could confuse Wednesday’s dance with the latest TikTok trend, right?
Something about that particular dance unlocked something weird in all of us, and it took off faster than a fire at Camp Chippewa. Snippets of the choreography inspired viewers to check out the series, making it one of the streamer’s most-watched shows (“Stranger Things,” who?). Her popularity online propelled Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” to the charts more than a decade after the song’s release, and she’s only been featured in fan-made TikToks, not the show she -even ! “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega’s admission that she choreographed the routine herself has invited new fans — celebrities included — to give it a whirl and even infuse the routine with moves from their own cultures.
Wednesday Addams would probably be mortified if she knew her moves had become, quivermainstream, but his dance won’t die – and this, she might just enjoy. This is what gives the “Wednesday” dance its unearthly stamina.
The “Wednesday” dance scene only debuted a month ago, but it already has a certain “mythology,” said Jenna Drenten, an associate professor of marketing at Loyola University Chicago who studies how users of TikTok and other digital platforms express their identity.
Most of the scene’s lore was developed off-screen. Ortega, playing a teenage Wednesday with her dark humor like tact, said she choreographed the routine herself. She counted among her influences, Bob Fosse, Siouxsie Sioux and the gothic dance clubs of the 80s (she also probably slipped in some references to the television series “The Addams Family” of the 60s).
Additionally, Ortega admitted she wasn’t a trained dancer, which makes her routine perhaps even more appealing to non-dancers who 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 has also sparked outrage – she told NME she filmed part of the dance while she waited for the Covid-19 test results, which later came back positive. This prompted some to condemn the production for not following proper Covid-19 prevention protocols on set – but despite it all, “Wednesday” continued to make waves.
The viral trends that stay in the cultural conversation the longest usually don’t just stay on their platform of origin, Drenten said. Watch the Corn Kid: He appeared in a YouTube series singing the cob’s praises, then clips of his appearance went viral on TikTok and he’s since continued to work with ChipotleGreen Giant and the State of South Dakota, promoting offline corn.
“To have a longer lifespan, TikTok trends need to take that leap into a cultural trend, beyond the borders of TikTok,” she said. “The ‘Wednesday’ dance had an edge in that sense because ‘The Addams Family’ dance and legacy originated outside of TikTok from the start.”
Another thing that the “Wednesday” dance has on its side – the human tendency to learn a dance for social currency.
Think the ‘Electric Slide’, the ‘Macarena’, the ‘Cupid Shuffle’ – bat mitzvah and wedding standards, moves that many of us know so well we can perform them without thinking. Playing them en masse at an event like this may feel like a Pavlovian response to a DJ’s song choice, but it’s also a shared ritual that fosters “a sense of togetherness and belonging,” Drenten said.
“Every gesture and movement allows the person performing it to inherently say, ‘I get it, I’m aware, we have this shared experience,'” Drenten said.
That’s part of the reason why dance routines, from “Renegade” to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” so often dominate TikTok. But contrary to those trends, the “Wednesday” dance wasn’t set to a popular song, though the Cramps’ punk anthem “Goo Goo Muck” has since gained new fans. The moves were pretty easy to figure out, Drenten said, “simple but unique.”
But Lady Gaga had to take the stratospheric “Wednesday” dance. The version that went über-viral on TikTok is a kind of “fancam,” or music video mashup, perfectly suited to Gaga’s “Bloody Mary,” a biblical ode to uninhibited dancing. Even Mother Monster herself performed a version of the “Wednesday” dance, wearing two long braids.
Millions of users have since put their own spin on the school Wednesday dance solo, with some users incorporating Polynesian or Indian dance styles into their versions or creating their own Wednesday looks (Thing, the disembodied hand, included!).
Belonging, of course, is contrary to the ethos of Wednesday, who never cared about fitting in. She is perfectly content on an island of her own, where the sun never shines and old-fashioned torture tools are plentiful. This Wednesday’s idiosyncratic moves have been copied so widely they could threaten to diminish her status as the patron saint of crackpots — except Wednesday’s style and attitude have been copied for decades.
Wednesday Addams has been around in one form or another since the late 1930s – first as an unnamed comic book character, then as a tiny kid in a TV sitcom, then, in its most famous iteration before the “Wednesday” premiere, as the dead-eyed Christina Ricci. And Wednesday’s fans have been dressing like her for decades, Drenten said, often inspired by Ricci’s portrayal. The eldest of the Addams children is no longer a secret his biggest fans can hide from mainstream pop culture.
Since Wednesday’s debut, she’s been an idiosyncratic icon for goth loners and neighbors alike for her unapologetic commitment to the macabre. Yet she is still an “exception” among women and girls in fiction, Emily Alford wrote for Longreads, because she never softened or bowed to certain story tropes. She is who she is and she does not change.
“She brought to the screen a morbid self-acceptance that sets her apart and became a crucial role model for a generation of girls developing their own gallows humor,” Alford wrote.
And now, many of these girls and other users end up on TikTok, where niche communities can flourish (or reach mainstream users). The app is a “space for people to find out who they are and, more importantly, find other people who share the same interests,” Drenten said, even though those interests involve cosplaying as a teenager. impartial.
“TikTok arguably promotes a lot of replication, and users may feel pressure to act, perform, and look a certain way,” Drenten said. “But Wednesday reminds people that being themselves in this sea of sameness is liberating.”
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