Harlem Shake – A Viral Internet Phenomenon

The Harlem Shake meme is a viral internet trend that took off in early 2013. It typically involved a short video format where, initially, one person danced to the first part of the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer while others in the video remained seemingly unaware. When the bass drops, the video would cut to a chaotic scene where everyone in the frame was dancing wildly in eccentric costumes or props.

The Origins of the Harlem Shake Meme

The origins of the Harlem Shake meme are somewhat convoluted. While the name suggests a connection to the Harlem neighborhood in New York City, the meme’s roots are more in the tradition of internet memes that evolve and spread rapidly. The format was popularized by a YouTube video by Filthy Frank, and from there, it took off as people across the world created their own versions.

The Army’s Take on the Harlem Shake in 2014

By 2014, the Harlem Shake meme had evolved into numerous variations and parodies. It had become a worldwide phenomenon, with people from all walks of life, including celebrities and athletes, creating their own interpretations. The military also joined the trend, and one notable version is the “Harlem Shake (Original Army Edition)”.

In early 2014, the U.S. Army created a Harlem Shake video that quickly gained attention and went viral. The video was filmed at a military base, with soldiers dressed in their uniforms. It followed the typical Harlem Shake format, starting with one soldier dancing to the opening beats, and when the bass dropped, the video cut to a scene of wild dancing, with soldiers donning various props, costumes, and even military gear.

Reception and Controversy

The “Harlem Shake (Original Army Edition)” received mixed reactions. While many found it humorous and entertaining, others, including some within the military, saw it as an inappropriate use of military resources and personnel.

The controversy stemmed from concerns that making such a video on active military duty was a misuse of time and resources, as well as potentially damaging to the professional image of the military. There were also discussions about whether it was disrespectful to the Harlem neighborhood in New York, as the meme’s name implies a connection to that cultural hub.

In response to the controversy, the U.S. Army made efforts to clarify that the video was created during the soldiers’ free time and that it did not compromise the safety or readiness of the troops. The video remained online and continued to be shared and viewed by millions.

Legacy and Cultural Impact

The “Harlem Shake (Original Army Edition)” is just one example of how the Harlem Shake meme took on various forms and spread across different communities. Its legacy lies in its representation of internet culture and how viral trends can quickly capture the public’s attention. While it was controversial in some contexts, it was ultimately a product of its time and a testament to the ever-evolving landscape of internet memes.

In conclusion, the “Harlem Shake (Original Army Edition)” of 2014 was a military take on the viral internet phenomenon that swept across the world in the early 2010s. It highlighted the cultural impact and controversies associated with such memes and how they can permeate various aspects of society, including the military.


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