“Good morning, everyone, and welcome back to yet another round of Bones or No Bones: the game where we find out if my 13-year-old pug woke up with bones, and, as a result, we’ll find out what kind of day we’re going to have.”
This is how Jonathan Graziano opens almost every one of his TikTok videos featuring his adorable pug, Noodle. For over a year now, Graziano has made jokes about Noodle having “no bones,” flopping back down on his bed every time he has to get up to go for a walk or use the bathroom. In the last couple of months, Graziano has begun posting daily “readings,” in which Noodle’s having bones (or lack thereof) determines how our day will go as well. “It’s kind of like reading tea leaves,” he says in one video. A “bones day” is a sign of good luck, and we’re supposed to treat ourselves and go after the things we want. A “no bones day” is not necessarily a bad thing, though. Graziano recommends we use the day for self-care, and just take it easy.
For those of us lucky enough to have these little videos cross our “For You” pages, Noodle has quickly grown into a cultural phenomenon. Graziano currently has 4.5 million followers on TikTok, and #Bones and #NoBones have hundreds of millions of views as well. Creators are writing songs about Noodle, designing “bones day” animations and 3D-printing wallet-sized displays to help keep track of each day’s reading. Noodle’s fame is not limited to TikTok, as he and Graziano have made appearances on several talk shows and most notably, Noodle was canceled by Rolling Stone. There’s merchandise available just about everywhere, and teachers are even incorporating the lingo into their classrooms. I’ve heard stories of students in class crowding around someone’s phone to watch the daily reading once it’s been posted.
So why does it concern me to see some people taking these forecasts a little too seriously?
This isn’t the first time that the general public has taken the “advice” of an animal. We have an entire holiday built around it. Instead of controlling the weather, Noodle controls people’s moods and energy, like a version of spoon theory for Gen Z. Why do we feel like we need an excuse to have a good day, or to take it easy?
If I had to guess, I’d say this is one of the ways we’re coping post-pandemic. Most of us are back in person now, whether it’s for school or for work. Having spent the last year and a half adjusting to isolation, I’ve found it’s an equally big adjustment to leave. Being expected to return to our normal workload is exhausting, and some of us still need a break but don’t feel like we’re allowed to take it. Noodle is our current solution to this problem, providing us with either the justification for taking that break or motivation to keep going. As one creator put it, “The entire world is revolving around Noodle right now, and we are okay with that because he came to us in a time of need.” There’s no telling how much longer Noodle’s fame will last, but for now, he’s helping us feel better — and looking cute while doing it.
Daily Arts Writer Hannah Carapellotti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.