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Stop Doing the Fucking Harlem Shake

The Worst Things Of All Time

By Drew Millard

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Above is a video of the actual Harlem Shake. The one that involves coordination, practice, rhythm, and skill. The one that Cam'ron rapped about performing at your wake after he killed you on "Down and Out." In short, the 100% real one.

This is not the Harlem Shake:

If you're unfamiliar, "The Harlem Shake" is a meme that falls on the spectrum of dumb music dance directly between Lil B's Cooking Dance and the Macarena. It's meant to accompany the (very good!) Trap song of the same name by the producer Baauer, who's probably elated at the exposure this still-nascent phenomenon has been garnering him. He deserves it—he's a talented producer who has a special ability to make a track bang, and anything that increases the visibility of talented artists is usually a good thing.

Anyways, back to the shake in question. The formula for "The Harlem Shake" videos is basically this: A person goes into a room full of people, humps the air or otherwise flails with the coordination of a drunk koala on speed, and then when the lion roars, everybody flips the fuck out.

In short, "The Harlem Shake" is unoriginal, unfunny, arhythmic, and frankly really motherfucking stupid. I know it's fun for the people doing it, and uploading a video of you and your friends wiggling around to the same song as other groups of friends makes everybody feel a little less alone in this desolate, unloving universe. But come on. Stop it.

I'm not a nerd whose thirst for authenticity causes me to huff, arms crossed with my hands under my armpits whenever anyone co-opts any little thing ever, and I'm not an Oompa-Loompa representing the Buzzkill Guild. Promise. But whenever I look at an Internet full of (mostly) white people doing a bastardized version of a dance that has the same name as another dance (and lest we forget, is named after fucking Harlem), and they're doing that dance to Trap, a style of EDM that took the name (and some sonic signifiers) of an already-existent style of hip-hop that had a very specific set of sociopolitical implications, and people aren't finding it at least a little problematic, it makes me feels like I'm taking crazy pills.

"The Harlem Shake" as a meme ruined "Harlem Shake" as a song and it's threatening to eradicate the actual Harlem Shake from popular memory, or at least make it hard to find on YouTube. And if I catch you or any of your motherfucking friends making a "Harlem Shake" video, I'm going to give you the world's biggest Wet Willie while my fellow Noisey Editor/Anti-Harlem Shake Evangelist Sasha Hecht stabs you with a spork.

 

Drew Millard does not dance. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard

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