In one of the more satisfying takedowns of memes that aren’t worth the bandwidth they’re using, filmmaker Chris McGuire went to 125th Street in Manhattan—the main artery of actual Harlem—to get residents’ perspective on the so-called "Harlem Shake" video phenomenon. And the reviews, to put it lightly, are not good.
First off, most of the folks interviewed have to be shown an example of a Harlem Shake video, and they react with horrified confusion from the get-go. Many of them note that no one involved in this trend is doing the real Harlem Shake, which originated in 1981 and has its roots in a much older Ethiopian dance.
The advice proffered runs the spectrum: get another hobby, get some rhythm, get some sense of shame, put some clothes on, don’t try this in Harlem itself, study your history and check your privileged white appropriation of a minority’s hard-won cultural capital. All of which is guaranteed to fall on the deaf ears of Matt & Kim fans everywhere. But at least people are talking?
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