“That ain’t the Harlem Shake!”
So apparently there is an entire culture of people that like the Harlem Shake less than I do these days — actual Harlemites. But do they dislike it for “the right reason”?
For me, I am fascinated that someone would go into Harlem and only interview black people about the Harlem Shake (there miiiight be a couple of Latin-influenced guys in the mix). Sure, when you say “Harlem,” non-Harlemites mostly think “black people” and that may be predominantly true, but you can clearly see mixed ethnicities of people walking in the background, so already this video has a sort of agenda.
And further, by presenting only one viewpoint — EVERYBODY interviewed thinks the “Harlem Shake” is bad, and almost all of them seem to agree that it is bad because they perceive it as other cultures intentionally dumping on “black culture” and the original “Harlem Shake,” the filmmaker creates a loaded piece of propaganda.
There was a smattering of controversy regarding “planking” in this fashion as well. But, largely these fads seem to emerge out of the ranks of youth who not only have no knowledge of past events, but also have no racial bias at all! The song could have been called the “Armadillo Shake” and it still would have involved goofy people of all races gyrating stupidly to a thumping beat. This “thing” isn’t a commentary on anybody or their culture — it is a means for disenfranchised peoples of the world to connect. It’s a “Hands Across America” for the jaded internet masses.
I am more fascinated by the agenda of the filmmaker for this video than I am about the actual content contained within. At heart, I believe the filmmaker just hates the fad and wanted to make a funny/clever video representing that, but I think it sends a very different message. I would love to see the footage they didn’t put into the video.
UPDATE: [2/20/13, 12:07 PST] So the director of the video chimed in: “As the filmmaker I can tell you, I used everyone who stopped and talked with me. Except one guy who the audio failed on and another who only talked for 20 seconds. No ‘white’ people stopped at all. What you see is what you get. I edited it down to tell the narrative that was given to me.” I am grateful to this creator (name is “Chris,” kind of an “It’s Pat” situation so far, and I’m not going to speculate on this one) for giving me a little backstory — of course, I do call for a distinction between “the narrative that was given to me” and “the narrative I took.” Filmmaking is not a passive medium for the director/editor. But otherwise, hope this provides a little nuance for folks.