The first time American video artist Cecelia Condit’s 12-minute film Possibly in Michigan (1983) found some online attention was ago in 2015. A user called LikeMyMen posted a Youtube excerpt of the work to the subreddit r/creepy, saying: ‘Possibly the creepiest thing I"ve ever watched.’ The threview it started ended up on the front web page of Reddit, with 4000 upvotes and also 868 comments consisting of observations choose, ‘I watched this entire film in my video art course. It was the most fucking disturbing thing I’ve ever before seen. At initially it was funny in a weird means, but then it was really off-putting.

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Possibly In Michigan sparked a conversation about what kind of creepiness gets attention: user spider_grain sassist, ‘I perform not understand why this is not gaining even more up votes. It is most likely bereason it is a video and also they don’t execute well on r/creepy. Truely creepy in my opinion.’ How_is_this_relevant answered, ‘This sub prefers predictable, cookie-cutter halloween creepy. ‘Oooooh, abandoned home all alone in the woods.’ ‘A baby doll hanging from a tree, did a gorganize do dat?’ ‘A photo I took made my eyes red, no logic can explain’.’

‘When Possibly was on the first web page of Reddit, it was remarkable,’ Condit told Daniella Shreir, editor of feminist film journal Anvarious other Gaze over a text message, ‘I was so puzzled. Almost terrified.’ Shreir mutual a screenswarm of the text message to Twitter in response to film curator Chris Osborn posting, puzzled and delighted, a brief video taken off the social media application TikTok of two teenage girls miming a song from the second minute of Possibly in Michigan. In the scene, the work’s 2 protagonists, Sharon and Janice, are trying out perfumes in a mall, and singsong-talk: ‘this one below smells great / which one? / smells favor mother’s crazy sister Kate / oh you think so? / it smells so excellent she couldn’t have actually been so crazy, I don’t think so / oh, you don’t think so? Well, she put her poodle one time in a microwave oven / to eat it? / oh, no no no no no no silly, to dry it. But it exploded, and they were both discovered dead.’

POSSIBLY IN MICHIGAN (of all things!!!) is a popular TikTok meme I am absolutely shedding my mind ideal now! pic.twitter.com/ek1gDPeVVY

— Chris Osborn (
Chris_Osborn) July 13, 2019

There are 23,530 videos on TikTok that use the audio clip from Possibly, initially uploaded this year by a sixteen-year-old girl dubbed Vris Dillard. It’s simply called ‘oh no no no no no no no no silly.’ Many of the videos are of teenage girls lip-synching from the ‘oh no no’ part via to ‘and they were both found dead’; they are performing one of the many common supplies of TikTok, an app via more than 500 million users who make and also share short – normally around 15 seconds – videos set to music (or sounds, consisting of short snippets from TV or various other TikTok and digital videos). It’s perfect for lip-synching and dancing and also it is enormously renowned among adolescents. So much so that once TikTok videos migrate to other platdevelops – particularly YouTube and Twitter – it’s as the ‘cringe’ finds of older teens and adults, who collect videos of children being weird online.

In maintaining with the internet’s expertise of Possibly in Michigan as creepy, the ‘oh no no’ sound snippet is provided in a variety of ill-fated videos of tween girls in scary clvery own makeup; a girl in a school outfit, pale makeup, and a toy gun in her hand; picture macros where text has actually been superapplied, such as, ‘Mom: are you high? Me: What? Oh no. No no no… silly.’ One user discovered that the original soundtrack was around putting a dog in a microwave: ‘When I identified what this sound was around... I flipped’.

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How does a video clip artwork-related from the 1980s become viral via children born in the 2000s? Dillard, the sixteen-year-old that produced the sound, told Garage’s Tatum Dooley: ‘I love creepy cute points so I dropped in love via it’. It easily spread: ‘after I uploaded the audios TONS of civilization began utilizing them. Within a month all my mutuals were posting audios and their love for ‘Possibly in Michigan.’’

The content of Possibly in Michigan – wbelow Sharon and Janice are adhered to by a man wearing different animal masks that they are so intimidated by that they end up killing him and eating him – is a dark fantasy ceded in an aesthetic that is legible to these tweens and also teenagers from the filters and themes that repeat on TikTok. Possibly in Michigan, with its numbers speaking in song, performing – then rebelling versus – their sex, and also enacting defiance in killing their aggressor, is primed for teenagers to determine through. It’s additionally cursed. Possibly started circulating online as creepy, an aesthetic category that users not just love to look at online, they likewise desire to share. Critic Rahel Aima, in a 2018 essay around the phenomenon of cursed images, writes around how anypoint from a Furby’s creepy dangly eyes to a picture of a male surrounded by tomatoes, have the right to circulate on Tumblr and Twitter as ‘cursed’ through a random number (to attest to the infinity of cursed things about us). Aima writes: ‘Once seen, they cannot be unchecked out, and also demand the catharsis, the lactic acid release of sharing: Must pass on, must retweet. I can’t stop thinking around this picture and also now you have to too. They are insatiable. And to paraphrase American Movie, we are aesthetically not prepared.’

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Cecelia Condit, Possibly in Michigan, 1983, film still. Courtesy: the artist

Possibly in Michigan is complex: tbelow are a few stories wrange right into it, there’s a hint of sex-related violence yet likewise female friendship, there’s rebellion, and there’s the reality that the section that exploded on TikTok is true. Condit sassist that it was taken from a newspaper write-up she read at the time. Microwaves were brand-new then, she defines, and she read around a woguy that put her poodle in the microwave to dry the dog; it exploded and also (you know where this is going…), ‘they were both found dead.’ The horror aspect of it, and the close-to-reality is precisely what teens are engaging via, even if they don’t understand that it came from Possibly In Michigan, also if they find it’s about a dog in the microwave and also flip. Something of the original significance of Condit’s film persists throughout its thousands of brand-new interpretations. The darkness that continues to be is a method for some teens to get involved in an application full of their peers performing their sexuality in song and also dance, while they preserve a sense of individuality. It’s your timeless Scarlett Johansboy in Gorganize World (2001), Winona Ryder in Heathers (1988), Ally Sheedy in The Breakrapid Club (1985). With terrifying makeup and also probably a clown costume on.