In the past couple of days this video has been doing the rounds on YouTube and t’internet. And in that space, copies have been made and shared. Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the birth of a new meme.
Spotting a viral video/meme this early on is a gift, as it provides the opportunity the breakdown how the virus of silly dancing is spread, what the meme will probably be in the future and how the meme would look in parallel universes (bear with me on this one).
Firstly, how is the meme spread? It must first originate somewhere with lots of eyeballs to share, in this case, patient zero is Filthy Frank, a
youtube comedian comedian on youtube. His fans find ridiculous dancing to trap funny (as it ever so slightly is) and share all along the inter webs. No doubt at this point the video is reaching the most powerful people on t’internet; the tubmlr famous (sarcasm alert).
The next stage after initial contraction of the viral video is transmission, which occurs though ‘the funny’ of the video morphing to different situations, with every iteration less funny than the last until the meme becomes meta and dies. This is basically what happened to “Shit That ____ Say”
Now in the case of ‘The Harlem Shake’, as it will soon be known, the formula of this virus seems to be thus:
1 odd person shaking + Jump cut + Everyone shaking and being crazy + The Harlem Shake = LOLZ.org
The special feature here will be outdoing previous videos. So far, the meme has gone from a room…
and the level upper, the warehouse office…
This meme will probably run for about a month until news presenters, politicians, celebrities and grannies start doing ‘The Harlem Shake’. At the time of writing, it has only been 2 hours since it has been submitted to Know Your Meme, the UN recognised site for meme archiving, research and advocacy.
The point of cultural death for this meme will be when it is used by an under pressure advertising agency to promote or sell something completely unrelated to the song, original video or dance. I say this because following the cumulative growth of participants in each of these videos, it’s not hard to foresee a flashmob of some kind, something that companies already have a knack for organising.
So there you have it, viral meme breakdown 101 and cultural hegemony all in one, don’t say you weren’t warned.