deep dive: Harlem Shake (WIP)

So where to start investigating the Harlem Shake? the two best places i’ve found are the Wikipedia article and the Know Your Meme article. Both do a good job about talking about the original dance, the Filthy_Frank original video, the Aussie skate video with the (now) base elements, and all the other videos.

So what is the meme and its components? Here’s a technical breakdown by the people at TechCrunch.

One interesting question is where do some of the elements come from? Well the mass dancing and humping may be related to a set of video of naked Norwegian men humping landmarks(NSFW). However, i think there is also a  subconscious influence from the dance hall style found in Jamaican Reggae videos and exaggerated in video from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show. These elements include wall humping and headstand humping. The masks can be traced back to Filthy_Frank which has evolved into the inclusion of wearing funny hats including sombreros, snow hats, furry masks, motorcycle helmets, and whatever else people can find.

At this time, the Harlem Shake is on the downswing, with variants starting to pop up. The first is the anti-Harlem Shake which ends with everyone standing still except for one person. However, i do expect a resurgence for March Madness considering 1) the large number of colleges and universities having made Harlem Shake videos and 2) the near perfect synchronicity of the meme to a 30-second timeout in basketball.

Of course, i have to put in my plug for my favorite versions, the Charlie Brown and the Washing Machine. And a shout out to Tumblr, where someone has already started storing the different versions.

That’s it for now. Please feel free to make comments of suggestions to improving this post.

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