You Didn’t Make the Harlem Shake Go Viral — Corporations Did

Harlem ShakeWanna know why so many got upset w/ the Harlem Shake phenom? It wasn’t so much because white kids who never heard of the dance doing it.. I think for a lot of folks that’s what was easiest top grasp onto.. but for many there was something else going on.. many weren’t quite able to articulate and pinpoint it, but something about this just felt foul..

Well here’s what was going on.. what was driving this Harlem Shake thing, wasn’t a bunch of folks sincerely having fun.. It was corporations getting behind this video and making the whole thing pop to the tune of big time money… So yes, folks were right when they said the Harlem Shake was the ‘Gentrified Harlem Shake‘ a term I first heard from writer dream hampton….To be accurate it was corporate gentrification.. The end game was to make  it appear as if everything was spontaneous..but it was anything but.. I like to use the words ‘social engineering‘…to make it plain and simple, call it manipulation or just straight up pimping

When speaking to classes, I remind folks today’s generation is being bombarded from all angles with information specifically designed to make them consumers and followers and not thinkers.. This Harlem Shake thing is a perfect way of showing how that happens.. This article below lays how all this went down and even though it doesn’t specifically lay this point out, I would emphasize, there’s no meaning to the phrase ‘let the buyer beware‘ or in the words of Chuck D from Public EnemyDon’t Believe the Hype‘’s an excerpt from the Mashable article.. The entire piece can be found at;

You Didn’t Make the Harlem Shake Go Viral — Corporations Did

Google’s trend charts of the phrase “Harlem Shake” are seismic. Almost no one looked for the words until Feb. 7, then searches surged faster than any term Google ever had, except for “Whitney Houston” after her death. A few weeks later, they fell close to zero.

Experts said the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet — accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a “meme” that “went viral.” But this is untrue. The real story of the “Harlem Shake” shows how much popular culture has changed and how much it has stayed the same.

The word “meme” comes from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Bits of information — memes — propagate from brain to brain through imitation, are subject to selection and can be regarded as living structures, he says, “not just metaphorically but technically,” because new information changes our brains. They are often made deliberately — think catchphrases, slogans, melodies — and makers may try to propagate them as fast and far as possible, or make them go viral. The myth of the “Harlem Shake” is that its viral spread was spontaneous, not directed by financial interests — a pop culture, popular uprising. Here’s how the meme and the myth began.

8 comments on “You Didn’t Make the Harlem Shake Go Viral — Corporations Did

  1. I don’t really see anything sinister here. “Everyone initially involved in driving traffic to the “Harlem Shake” had the same incentive: to increase the number of views.” I don’t buy that. The article refers to dozens of random companies who thought to co-opt the trend for their own profit, not for the profit of Bauuer or hit label or for Google/Youtube. They wanted to drive views to their own video to sell their products not to Bauuer’s video to sell his. And earlier on in the article he cites the videos as generating “a few thousand” views after 3 days (Jan31-Feb2). But then by February 6 the author says the videos had a few hundred thousand views. That sounds pretty damn viral to me (but maybe I’m not up on my internet viral-ness(?) rates like I should be) and it wasn’t manipulated to engineered, unless you include the individual middle-management employees at several companies (liker Maker) who thought of it as a easy way to ride the momentum to publicity for their products. The tie-ins to Warner Brothers and the random digression about the Super Bowl blackout are tenuous at best and definitely don’t point to some smoking gun conspiracy to make someone rich. And who is the supposed mastermind to benefit from all this? The little guys at Mad Decent? Is it a conspiracy because Mad Decent saw the trend and called in their colleagues and partners to help them spread the word further? This article is reaching for a villain, but there really isn’t one.

    I do agree that this type of stuff creates more and more mindlessness, but I think the author does that argument a disservice by inventing a faulty conspiracy. Unless I missed something.

  2. Corporations have always been trying to indoctrinate the young. Their survival depends on a fresh crop of consumers (“fresh meat”—I heard a marketing executive use that term) to continue buying products. Back in the 60s and early 70s, “hippies” were used to sell everything from soft drinks to shampoo. (Y’know, the hair and all.) Advertisers conveniently forgot about the message of the antiwar movement and demands for greater personal freedoms. Punk rockers were harder to market because they weren’t “attractive” in the mainstream sense. When I saw a shot of a mohawked couple riding on a motorcycle in a designer watch commercial back in the 80s, I knew we’d been sold, however.

    I find it very interesting that African American pop culture is being marketed to upper middle class white kids, particularly the college-student “consumer group.” Of course the message is dehumanized, since so few of these kids actually know anyone of color. All they know is the video, which gets mimicked a thousand times, and every copy gets thinner and less human.

  3. Propaganda has been at the forefront of minute unconscious decision making for the past 40 years or more. Propaganda and big business are one in the same just as human beings are to cattle. The day we open our eyes and don’t buy into the hype would be the day we choose to be free…..A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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