Mannequins in Popular Culture

Mannequins in Popular Culture

From the Mannequin Challenge to the 1987 Movie - Mannequins in Popular Culture

The mannequin is an essential piece of retail kit for visual marketers around the globe. However, artists, writers and filmmakers also seem to be fascinated by the concept of the shop dummy and, in particular, imagining what lies beneath that perfect exterior. In fact, popular culture just cannot get enough of the mannequin!

The fact that something can take on the exact form of a human (or an animal, don’t forget those beautiful dog mannequins that represent anything from pugs to pointers), yet gives nothing away in terms of emotion seems to intrigue creative types, who have been casting mannequins in TV shows and films for decades. They even featured in their very own internet meme - the Mannequin Challenge.

Here are some examples of mannequins in popular culture.

The Mannequin Challenge

In November 2016, the Mannequin Challenge spread around the world on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Originally the work of some Florida high school kids messing about in class, the phenomenon and its hashtag #MannequinChallenge struck a chord and went viral.

The basic premise was that a group of people stood completely still whilst a moving camera filmed around the pose, as if videoing mannequins. There was a Mannequin Challenge song that appeared on many of the clips, Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd, but other than that there were very few rules. As long as you were standing still, the only limit was your creativity, and some of the videos became very complicated indeed.

Of course, the trend caught on with celebrities, which spread the word even further. Not only did the Spanish football team perform their own Mannequin Challenge video in the dressing room at Wembley when they were visiting to play a friendly against England, but Three Lions Jamie Vardy, Theo Walcott and Raheem Sterling performed their own tribute to the challenge after one of the goals in the hosts’ 3-2 win during that game.

Elsewhere, the former members of Destiny’s Child reunited for their mannequin effort, the X Factor judges paid tribute whilst contestant Honey G belted out a version of Black Beatles, and Britney Spears and her crew made their own video on stage, although her Mannequin Challenge music was actually her own single, Slumber Party.

Here is one of the best Mannequin Challenge videos:

Mannequin Movie

Mannequin (1987) is a movie starring Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy. The premise is that McCarthy is an artist, Jonathan, who takes a job as an assistant window dresser at a retail store. He is surprised (as you would imagine) when one of the shop mannequins, which he had previously assembled whilst on another odd job, comes to life and reveals that she is an ancient Egyptian trapped within the dummy due to a curse. Emmy the mannequin is played by Sex and the City star Cattrall.

The pair fall in love and create beautiful and enticing window displays together as well as touring the city on his motorbike. Needless to say, Mannequin is not based on a true story!

It has become a cult classic in recent years, but obviously the idea of a mannequin film offered some snooty reviewers too much temptation for a few sneaky puns in their less than favourable reviews. Website Rotten Tomatoes calls it “a real dummy, outfitted with a ludicrous concept”, whilst the Washington Post said it was "made by, for, and about dummies."

However, the Mannequin movie struck a chord in Philadelphia, where it is set. One local magazine referred to it as “truly the most uplifting movie about the city”. It also spawned an Oscar-nominated song - Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

There was a Mannequin film sequel - 1991’s Mannequin 2: On the Move - although the less said about that, the better.

Mannequins in Horror

Another mannequin film is Carry On Screaming. The 1966 instalment of the British comedy movie series was a spoof on the Hammer horror genre and saw a family of ghouls kidnapping women to dip them in wax and turn them into shop dummies.

The Twilight Zone also produced an episode that dealt with mannequins. The After Hours featured shop dummies coming to life and taking turns venturing into the outside world. In addition, the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes is partially based in a spooky abandoned nuclear test site inhabited by mannequins. They have also appeared in Doctor Who.

More Mannequins in Popular Culture

Other TV mannequins include those in commercials for US clothes retailer Old Navy, where actors dub voices over footage of inanimate dummies. The Japanese TV show The Fuccons/Oh! Mikey uses a similar effect. There was also a TV film created about crash test dummies who walk around and talk when they are not putting the safety features of cars through their paces.

In the world of music, mannequins (hairdressers’ wax dummies to be precise) appeared on the front cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles. The video to Norwegian band a-ha’s The Sun Always Shines on TV also features shop dummies, acting as the band’s audience in a church.

Players of The Sims computer games also make use of mannequins when they are developing uniforms for their characters. In much the same way as a visual merchandiser would use a clothes mannequin in a shop display, Sims business owners show off their wares on dummies to entice other Sims into their retail stores.

The Truth About Your Mannequins?!

We hope you have enjoyed this look into the popularity of mannequins in films, TV shows, gaming and online too. If you make use of mannequins in your retail business, don’t worry, we are fairly sure that they are not cursed ancient Egyptians! That is pretty much a guarantee.

Whatever kind of mannequin you need for your business, take a look at our selection at the Retail Factory. Our dummies range from eco-friendly plastic mannequins to the luxury fibreglass models. They come in all sorts of styles too, from sporting models to sitters and leaners, and pregnancy mannequins.

If you need something specific that you can’t see in our extensive range, we also create bespoke mannequins that suit your needs exactly. Call 0800 022 3237 or email today, we love to chat to you so we can ensure we offer the best possible service.

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