The Harlem Shake: The less-than-subtle art of “What the F*@K?”


Disorientating, perplexing and down right mindfuckery.

Something akin to humanity, worn down by the perpetual stress and pressures of modern society,  taking to the therapist’s couch, baring it’s bones and really opening up. Yeh, and then some. It’s the latest enigmatic Youtube phenomenon to leave you questioning your purpose in life – the Harlem Shake. Society’s mask of social acceptability has well and truly left the building.

You begin by observing the exploits of a dancing maverick; boogying alone, he exists framed by normality. One beat, and one blink, later the world as you know it has supernova’d into an orgy of unexplainables. I’m not even sure if “unexplainables” is a word, but I am certain real words struggle to describe what’s unfolding before your eyes.

After witnessing a horse breakdown in the burger aisle of Tesco’s, I thought I’d seen it all. But no:

I know what you’re thinking. That poor polar bear, sandwiched between the crotches of two men. But after several watches – for research purposes of course – I’m left questioning what’s grotesque and what’s normal. The world as you see it erupts into a socially gelatinous mass of, what looks like, people pretending to be a vibrating mobile phone on a flat surface, porn stars, or Elvis on performance enhancing drugs. The Harlem Shake is the magnet to mankind’s internal compass.

Ah, masturbation and milk. Of course, Harlem’s new definition of normal wouldn’t be complete without it. What was probably breakfast time before the “Shake” tookover, has descended into a cacophony of pimps, superheroes and yes, more sexual abuse of cuddly animals.

Shrooms? Acid? Other hallucinogens? Pah, not necessary. Imagine what seminal art The Beatles could have produced on the Harlem Shake? Stick this on a loop for a one way journey farther than Lucy’s sky full of diamonds. Hell, Lucy’s just a dot to you now.

What is truly mind-blowing (if you’ve got any left) is it’s versatility. Despite the common variables, all are completely different in tone, setting and bizarreness. From what happens when you divert a carnival into one single room (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd8Fmh7nIrQ), to the result of someone supplying the wrong kind of medication at the old-folks home (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siF0iQOm6wg), the Harlem Shake exhibits both everything wrong with humanity and everything that’s right – all at the same time.

This wildfire of the insane is well and truly catching, with some videos receiving stupidly high hits. In what is potentially a powerful boon to the interpretive dance community, the Harlem Shake connects with everyone on varying levels, even if that connection disconnects you further from reality. Like a lot of things on the internet, it takes very little skill, effort or time. Just a whole lot of fucked-up with a pinch of crazy is all that’s necessary for this art form.*

 *possibly also an underlying hatred of animals on a freudian level.    

 Find the published article here at Sabotage Times

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