For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing buzz about “The Harlem Shake”. Particularly on twitter but I’ve even got a few emails about it from people asking me my thoughts on it. Even though I am a professional unlicensed sociologist who has a hunger to know all things, for some reason, I chose to just ignore whatever was going on with this “Harlem Shake” thing cause, well, I honestly couldn’t care less. I was familiar with the dance. Turns out someone made a song named after a dance that is older than willow smith. It was something people were talking about literally almost ten years ago. This is what that was:
Just some stupid dance. However, a dance that did take a little skill to do. I surely couldn’t do it without throwing out my back. So, when “Harlem Shake” started popping up in my twitter timeline, I thought “hmm…that’s strange but, also, who gives a shit?”. Besides, I felt as though the Harlem Shake had peaked in 2004 when Cam’ron shouted it out in his song “Down and out” saying
“Nowadays a nigga got bake in the bake
Harlem shake? Nah, I’m in Harlem shakin’ the weight
Shakin’ the bake, shakin the jakes
Kill you, shoot the funeral up and harlem shake at your wake”
That’s pretty much as good as it’s gonna get.
But, regardless, I guess the lack of thought I gave it kept me from realizing what was going on. The white man had done it again. I honestly should have known the second I saw that name start recirculating that, in all likelihood, there was a viral video behind it (there always is). So, today, with a clear mind, I looked it up. Partially out of curiosity and partially cause I had a feeling it would be the 27th thing that’s wrong with the world. Jackpot. This is the first video I happened upon:
Within about 1 second I started to get that feeling I get every time I’m embarrassed to be white. Now, I’m not gonna get all soapbox on you and overlook that, on the surface, this is just some kids having fun. That’s all it is. THIS VERSION of the Harlem Shake is stupid and anyone can do it. That’s a huge aspect of this. But it’s hard to watch this and not feel like this shit is a little racist. I mean, it’s not even the same dance. They could call it the New Canaan shake or the Bethesda shuffle. Whatever it is they’re doing surely has no roots in harlem. But, like i said, I don’t doubt it’s origins were harmless enough which leads me to my beef:
Fuck all these dances
Is this something that is subtly racist? Of course it is. Do the frat boys who just stopped planking and doing borat impressions to do a Harlem Shake video have any idea of that? hell no. They’re just imitating some shit they saw on youtube. The only connection this song has to race for them is that the word “Harlem” is in it. While that should perhaps tip off the more inquisitive mind into maybe looking into said craze and really seeing what it’s all about, I’m afraid we aren’t dealing with the worlds greatest thinkers here. It’s just dumb kids having dumb fun. And it’s dumb.
All that said, these fucking dances…Between Tv shows where celebrities dance terribly for then entertainment of people too stupid to watch Honey Boo Boo and movies involving beef like situations that results in “Billy Jean” like gang wars that turn into dudes in bandanas backflipping and doing pirouettes, it’s safe to say that dancing is out of control. The world could use a little justice taken from the rule book of that hick town in Footloose. Much like all types of art, it’s been taken out of the hands of professionals and thrust into the grasps of just some average dickhead with a little time on his hands and decent camera on his phone.
There was a time when I would say dance crazes started from an honest place. They would get popular in one area and spread. I have no clue how any dance move originates but I’d like to think it’s typically some off the wall gay dancer kid in the hood who gets the ball rolling. Most likely at a school dance. Props to that kid. However, because of the popularity of viral videos and peoples undying need to get notoriety, the new shit is simply make up a dance where it’s sole purpose is to become a viral video.
From “Superman that hoe” to “walk it out” to whatever the fucking dumb dance the kids were doing 5 years ago. Much like the music behind it, it’s not coming from a creative place. It’s coming from the mind of the self made promotional artist. But, you know what? I suppose in 2013 , there is art to being a promotional artist.
So, while I’m mildly offended by the resurgence of “The Harlem Shake” , as done by out of touch, entitled white morons, I’m more taking a stance against all viral dance crazes. That includes the Macerena and the fucking electric slide. I’m against them partially cause they’re moronic but , most of all, cause none of these dances will ever compete with the pinnacle of dance, the “Movin’ Like bernie”. Now THAT is a fucking dance.