By: Aaron Weiss
I had taken all the necessary steps. I had swung through my brothers apartment to get a motorcycle helmet to wear while I danced. I had the drive to go out and actually produce a video. I had a camera that wasn’t an iPhone. However, when Saturday morning rolled around, I did not make the “Harlem Shake: SF Dolores Park Edition” video I had planned to.
If you’ve been on YouTube at any point over the last 96 hours, you’ve surely noticed the increase in 30 second videos featuring a motorcycle helmet-adorned dancer standing amongst a collection of peers to the tune of Bauuer’s Harlem Shake. The helmet wearer dances, casually thrusting as people in the background mill about. That is until the bassline drops and all the characters on screen do their best impression of a wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tubeman.
I didn’t make the video for a number of reasons. Maybe I didn’t feel like convincing myself to stand in front of a crowd of people and ask them to dance for me. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of trap music. Possibly I just felt like getting stoned and doing nothing instead. While these all seem valid reasons, the reasons I didn’t make yet another Harlem Shake video are a bit deeper.
- There’s no point. Is there anything to be gained in the process of creating the video? No. I may as well remake Charlie bit me, although I think a lot of the flair would be lost in a version starring myself and my equally un-cute 22 year old roommate. The world has nothing to gain from seeing the exact same 30 second Harlem Shake clip recreated. Even if the remake is done underwater or features Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki.
- The world has enough people copy-catting. People will imitate anything to inch their way into the edges of someone else’s spotlight. Take retweets for example. Instead of seizing twitter as an opportunity to create original content and build their own brand, people would rather re-publish exactly the same content Kanye just did but with their name ever so slightly attached to it.
- It discredits the original artist. The worst part about this trend is that after spending a solid 4 minutes (pretty long for the internet) trying to find whatever Harlem Shake video started it all, I couldn’t single one out. That means the people who created this art form originally are not receiving their due credit for sparking this viral phenomena.
The permeation of remix culture into our daily lives has gone from a refreshing new way to reflect on trends in society to an annoying plea for attention from people attempting to ride waves of internet traffic spikes to popularity for all the wrong reasons. Making original content is fun! You might not get the volume of views you were hoping, but at least you’ll be contributing to the progress of mankind.