Tell me if this scene sounds familiar: A seemingly typical room contains several catatonic individuals frozen in positions of productive bliss. All of the sudden, something disrupts it. Out of nowhere, an individual in some form of helmet, latex suit or oddly shaped hat appears on the scene and begins dancing flamboyantly to a foreign techno beat thrumming in the background.
As this person shakes obscurely, no one seems to notice. Is this person a ghost, eternally doomed to roam around in the outfit of his or her demise and jig for all eternity? Is he or she being shunned from society Puritan-style, the neon spandex and fruit hat a far cry from acceptable standards of these in-control individuals? How could someone possibly act blindly to what is going on in front of them?
This goes on for a few measures of music, and then, suddenly, a beat drops. A dark, ominous voice commands, “Do the ‘Harlem Shake,'” as if demanding action, as a god on high, from the insignificant puppets below.
Then it happens. As if sparked like wildfire, the blink of a human eye sets a transfer to the entire room ablaze with an explosion of dancing. A viral outbreak has occurred, and the once-still individuals are flailing in boogie fever that can’t possibly be contained in mere choreography.
Some grab inanimate objects and coerce them to dance too. Some just ineffectively hump the thin air in front of them. Some break out moves so suggestive that therapy may be a suggestion if this epidemic ever ceases. For one last final second, you hear the ominous voice growl mockingly, and the puppets dance in slow motion, so you can sit back and process what exactly you were just doing for the past 39 seconds of your life.
If you haven’t caught the raging hit by now, what I just described was the current Internet phenomenon known as the “Harlem Shake” videos. Apparently a couple of guys decided to dance around to this techno excerpt one day and and put it on YouTube, and now every organization and its mother has been uploading replicas on a Black-Plague-viral scale.
Why? The real “Harlem Shake” is a simple dance involving shimmying/robotic motions of the shoulders, not epileptic fits of the entire body on a whim.
I’ve come to the conclusion that becoming a YouTube sensation has taken an interesting turn in its qualifications. I remember the good old days when you needed to be a dramatically faced gopher or hiding under a blanket weeping about the media abuse of celebutantes to even get a few thousand hits on YouTube, maybe even taking the time to write a decent song parody.
Now all you need to do, it seems, is record odd malfunctions of society and pray to the content beings on high that someone is going to come upon it and find it hilarious enough to spread to all their close and personal Facebook friends. Viral videos have become the cheapest, and yet most hit-and-miss, attempts at promoting oneself on the Internet social scale, and even if the topic rages, the life span is short-lived.
Remember the “Random Nonsensical Things (insert any stereotype ever) Say” series that took off at the beginning of last year. First it was stuff that girls said, then guys, then offensive racial stereotypes, then your boss, then your mother, etc. I personally counted about 3-4 weeks of media relevance before people were like, “I’m done!”
Now, with the “Harlem Shake,” I’ve hypothesized the Internet irritation with it appeared after the first week of its big debut. This is the price to pay for this kind of sensational self-promotion. Whether you’re a bored teenager looking to be a sensation or a celebrity sensation with a lot of productive time on your hands to be involved in the productions of one of these videos, you will only eventually cycle out of the fame game after your 15 minutes are up, taking the back seat to a tutorial gone wrong by a teenage girl who left the curling iron in her hair for just a bit too long.
I may be venting just a little (that’s perfectly justifiable to assume). Maybe I should lighten up. Who knows? However, how about I ask YOU to sit through Carly Rae Jepsen’s single “Call Me Maybe” after its little viral encounter from the past year, and then tell me how much you think I’m moaning?