Let it be known that I while I do not spiritually agree with Instagram “challenges”, I will make an exception for any “challenge” that results in Tom Holland (and potentially Jake Gyllenhaal) being shirtless for abs-olutely no reason whatsoever. Social media meme challenges continue to be a pox on our society dressed in the disguise of a slow and steady quarantined spiral. But, as my toaster whispered to me the other day at lunch, “Wouldest thou like to spiral thirstily?”
Like an anthropologist from some future society, I will now attempt to piece together the “challenge” in question. It will not make sense. I will turn to my colleagues and shrug. I will later win a Nobel Prize for my paper entitled “Earth 2020: Horny on Main.” So, as you read, please remember that this is not just thirst journalism—it’s scholarship. From what I can discern from watching Tom Holland’s Instagram Story roughly 600 times this morning, the objective of the challenge is deceptively simple: you take off your shirt. End of challenge. I agree!
Wait, sorry. Reports are coming in that there is another component. As Holland shows on his story, to complete the challenge one then has to do a handstand against a wall and attempt to put one’s shirt back on while upside-down. Objection your honor! Flag on the play! This is not a challenge, this is a punishment for me specifically.
Did I watch a full minute of Tom Holland struggling to put on clothing? Yes. Did I enjoy it? I mean sort of, but I have terrible taste! What is the point of all of this? This so-called challenge, while thirst adjacent, is still guilty of the same sin as every other challenge: I don’t understand why it’s happening and yet I am powerless against it. They lured me in with Tom Holland doing weird gymnastic in a set-up that looks like Olivia Pope filming her hostage video and then closed the exits! Trapped by a thirst trap! This is, honestly, a bridge too far and the government must intervene.
Here’s more of Tom’s (and my) struggle:
At this point I had gone from being intrigued by the challenge to resenting it to being emotionally invested in it. “Come on shirt!” I yelled in an empty room. “You can do it, shirt!” Oh, how these challenges turn the tables on us. Most social media challenges, I should note, are not this thirst-related. Indeed, most of them involve posting an old photo, making a list, or filling out a Bingo card and then, like a high school friend who got caught up in a multi-level marketing scheme, harassing those nearest and dearest to you. Every challenge starts off simply and then reveals “Actually, you gotta shake your friends and family down for content or you’ll never escape!”
Every time I am tagged in a challenge, I immediately have a breakdown like Julianne Moore in the pharmacy in Magnolia. “I come online, you don’t know me, you don’t know what my life is and you have the indecency to ask me a question about doing push-ups! I come in with these Likes; I give them to you. You doubt. Look suspicious. Ask questions. And where is your decency?! That I’m asked questions like ‘What is your favorite band?’ SHAME! SHAME ON YOU!”
This is a reasonable response.
Anyway, let’s check in on Tom!
But then! A turn of events!
He completes the challenge and, in order to free himself of the It Follows curse, tags a couple zaddies and suddenly… challenge is good? Tom Holland is just sitting in his house, bored, publicly yelling at Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds to take off their shirts. Did I Secret this into being?
Gyllenhaal was quick to reply with the questions we’re all asking:
“Wait, what’s the challenge???” Gyllenhaal wrote on his Instagram Story. “Shirtless heavy breathing??” Yes, Jake. That is the challenge and you must complete it immediately. My crops are dying.
Going back through the story, Gyllenhaal seems to have gotten the gist of it. “Gimme a minute” he wrote but it was more than a minute ago so I have called the police.
Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds embodied the energy I am taking into every challenge by staring at the camera in confusion before shaking his head and replying “No.”
Finally, the curse is broken!