Harlem Shake: LOL Revolution Goes Viral

Twas not so long ago this blog warned that if the revolution didn’t make us laugh out loud, then the joke was on us. Since then much water has passed under the bridge but the laughs have been scarce at best, with the mock seriousness of the extractive elite on one side and the real suffering of their victims on the other. Where are the jesters in our time of need? Bowed out, gone, cleared the stage, like George and Bill and Hunter, shooting pool in the big cantina in the sky. We’re on our own here; this revolution has no leaders because it isn’t about being led but about being free. In fact, as the Harlem Shake killer meme proves, this revolution doesn’t even need words; the message is being conveyed at a higher level that speaks to us as humans, transcending language and cultural barriers.

I admit to being a latecomer to the Harlem Shake wagon, my natural tendency is to avoid viral memes as long as humanly possible and I had succeeded in steering clear of the Shake until coming across an article at VT explaining how the dance had become a protest tool. There I played one of the videos and heard the dance for the first time, with its sticky “con los terroristas” sample. Soon afterwards I was watching the Shake mix embedded at the end of this post, clip after clip of folks doing their thang in most every place and situation imaginable.

just another day at the orfice...

just another day at the orfice…

And as I watched and laughed at the trippy cuts, I felt the tingle that comes on when something resonates deep within. It is not a frequent happening, so when it does happen I take good note. It wasn’t too long before I realized what it was: the powerful madness was a revolution and it was making me LOL.

The Shake is first and foremost a celebration, like most dances are. A celebration of the zany and unpredictable nature of humanity, and by extension a celebration of human individuality and freedom. The freedom to be your own weird self as an integral part of a larger weirdness, to use the power of absurdity to shatter the complacency of consensus reality. The embracement of weirdness as a state of being puts us beyond the control of the serious powers because it lies beyond their ken.

But beyond all that it is a sign of the times, yet another manifestation of the sneak apocalypse pushing forth in mysterious and unexpected ways. In an eyeblink the Shake goes from kinda odd to full-out bizzaro, which is exactly where we stand right now. A collapsing world at the brink of war, battered by the currents of change and hanging on to its last shreds of sanity by the skin of its teeth. So what vibe exactly is the Shake picking up on?

Time will tell. Or maybe the guy punching the plastic giraffe. Who blinked?


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