The artistic death spiral of America’s most inexplicable show-business family—the Raleigh-based, four-person Holderness clan—continues apace with the latest viral-video plea for relevance, this morning’s clumsily titled “Ultimate Thanksgiving Mashup: Hello, Hotline Bling, and Nae Nae, Holderness Family Style.”
It’s the group’s second annual Thanksgiving offering, echoing 2014’s Meghan Trainor-inspired “It’s All About That Baste,” which charmingly spoofed the patriarchal nature of our most family-themed holiday. This year’s entry, however, features mom Kim gyrating (sexily?) with a glass of “Chardo-nae-nae” (ouch), plus a cheap jello joke at Adele’s expense (Hello?) and the 4,987th lame, awful “Hotline Bling” parody.
The Holderness’ penchant for white suburban minstrelsy—that is, the geeky acting out of African-American song-and-dance styles by a white family drowning in their own wholesome privileged opulence—has now reached the point of grindingly offensive annoyance. To wit, their riff on Silentó’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae”) features former local newsdude and dad Penn wackily waving a turkey leg around his expansive grounds while mocking the “stanky leg” dance. It is especially grotesque, as if the fancy folks up in the big house are partying while mocking those foolish folks down in the poorest areas of Southeast Raleigh, a few miles away.
The Holderness crew jetted to fame after 2013’s pleasantly goofy “#XMAS JAMMIES.” But it seems the family has really hit the creative skids after mixed reviews—and I’m being generous here—for the ill-conceived reality show The Holderness Family on the supposedly uplifting, totally struggling cable network Up (formerly GMC, or the Gospel Music Channel). Hell, Kim admitted they were already “in over their head” in a late 2014 column for Today.com, confessing that she and Penn, along with their collaborators (son Penn Charles and daughter Lola), could not handle the rigorous demands of running their own video-production and digital marketing business.
Creating a cute, silly video about Christmas that goes viral is one thing; maintaining a steady flow of quality digital content, along with a reality show co-starring your kids, is another. Although the Holderness’ initial attempt to portray themselves as on-a-shoestring boot-strappers was absurd from the start (the towering house in the background was always part of the we’re-just-fun-white-and-carefree joke), they had potential if the cornball, race-tinged mockery could be de-emphasized. But it remains their fallback position.
With this latest in a series of egregious duds, the window for the family to capitalize on momentary viral fame appears to be sliding shut. Maybe that’s best for all concerned, especially any future actual hitmakers.