On All Things Considered yesterday, they had a story about Minnesota congressman Rick Nolan, who served a couple of terms in the 70s and 80s, and then left office, and has now been re-elected to the house of representatives, 33 years later. It’s interesting! Like, he maintains his seniority despite having been out of the loop for so long, and has a nice office. He’s like a character in House of Cards! Towards the end of the radio piece, Mr. Nolan describes an experience from his original time in office in which he’s concerned about a particular vote going against the White House, and representative John Dingell from Michigan calms him down by explaining that presidents come and go but they as members of congress will outlast them all, to which Nolan then points out that 33 years later, after multiple presidents, Dingell is still there. That’s kind of how I feel about memes. Fuck them. They’ll be gone tomorrow and we will still be standing here. But I have to admit that as far as memes go, this week’s meme, the “Harlem Shake,” is pretty good. You can read the history of the “Harlem Shake” here because I refuse to recount it again. The history of a fucking meme? Are you out of your mind? I’d rather watch the Courtney Stodden video again. But basically, all iterations of the meme include the same 30-second reggaeton sound clip. Usually, someone is dancing to the song in a helmet while someone else is not paying attention, and then about halfway through there is a jump cut and everyone is dancing. Here are a bunch of examples:

See? It’s not a bad meme! Here is why I think this meme works:

1. It is blessedly short.
2. The music is fine.
3. Everyone loves dancing.
4. The people in the videos are clearly having fun making them.
5. Most memes involve multiple people making terrible variations on something that wasn’t very good to begin with, but in this instance, even the worst “Harlem Shake” is still just people having fun and dancing for 30 seconds, which is great.

So there you go, guys. POWERFUL STUFF. I’ve really broken it down for you. No thanks necessary. This is my job.

Comments (37)
  1. This is OT from memes, and for that I apologize, but is there a good argument for why there are no term limits for members of congress? I can’t be alone in finding the trend of career politicians to be problematic. And while I like to think that the people consistently re-elected over 40 years are just the best damn politicians ever, I suspect it is more along the lines of Office Space’s ‘doing the least amount of work to not get fired (or not re-elected in this case).

    • It’s way problematic. The idea originally was that normal citizens would be elected to congress and then return to their normal lives. George Washington, Albert Einstein and the other founding fathers never dreamed of career politicians, but since Congress would have to vote for term limits, that’s what we got.

      • Strongly disagree! Legislation is a skill and I’d prefer leaving it to the skilled people. Having new representatives come in every eight years to start over kills momentum or inevitability of good ideas and leaves the state (or in your scenario, the country) worse off.

        If there is an idea being supported by Republicans, that should be a hint that it leads to bad government.

  2. I’m staying on this fence until i hear what Trump thinks about all that hip thrusting.

  3. I was about to say memes have jumped the shark, but dang it, I like this one. I think it was the wall-humping that melted my icy, cynical heart. In high school, we invented a game called “Dance or Die” where, if a bunch of us were in a car, the driver would take his hands off the wheel and shout “dance or die!” and he or she couldn’t put their hands back on the wheel until everyone in the car was dancing. A great game, trust me. I’d turn it into a meme, but I don’t want to be responsible for all the subsequent death.

  4. not a fan of the dude staring at the camera, punching an inflatable giraffe in the face nonrhythmatically

  5. FLW’s Million Dollar Idea: Make an app that adds a green filter to any of theses videos and call it the Harlem Shamrock Shake.

    • I’m going to patent that idea and sell it on Shark Tank. Then Mr. Wonderful will buy it from me and sell it to some sucker in Silicon Valley.

      I’ve been watching a lot of Shark Tank, you guys. A lot.

      • I recently saw it for the first time. There was an episode where two children (and their mom) needed financing for their jewelry lines, but they were already netting millions of dollars!

        It made me sad that children had more money than me, happy that these kids were so productive and seemed like nice girls, and hopeful that maybe I could think of something that could net millions of dollars.

        • I had a long conversation with my mom about that episode. It’s a cute idea that works well when you’re 11 or 12, but can you imagine being tied to an idea you had at 11 or 12 for 20 years or so (because their lines are ever expanding hahahahaha)? Always making those hideous bottlecap necklaces or other crap that targets the Claire’s demo? And what if the girl wanted to go become something that wasn’t a bad jewelry entrepreneur? Plus everything they were creating and the way it will now be outsourced to China for higher margins made me think of all the waste involved and how even more landfills will be cluttered with that crap. My mom told me to stop worrying about strangers’ futures but, yes, those were hideous accessories.

          I really like it when someone has a good idea and then is so insufferable no one wants to work with them. That’s basically my favorite part of any episode.

          • That’s the one! Even though I agree the bottlecap necklaces are dumb, I can see why kids like them, so fine. But the “adult” line of jewelry was really ugly.

            I think that is what is so shocking to me… how can that crap make them millions of dollars? I just can’t believe it!

            When that girl decides to step away from her jewelry career, the nice thing is that she will have millions of dollars to pursue whatever she wants, so I wouldn’t worry too much for her future.

          • But what if she can’t? What IF SHE CAN’T??? Plus she’s splitting it with lil’ sis and mom, which could go so ugly so quickly. Reminded me of the beginning of one of those horrible lottery horror stories.

  6. Alright, Alright, I’ll do it. But you gotta let me be the guy in the helmet, because I don’t want anyone to know it’s me. And I’m not taking my pants off or pretending to hump the wall or anything.

  7. Well, at the very least it’s better than seeing pictures of a douchebag senator drinking a bottle of water.

  8. I dont hate these, and I hate. boy, do I hate.

  9. I agree that this is a good meme, but I saw the cast of the Today Show perform it today, and that ruined it.

    • On the fifth day God created Memes, for he so wished for his creations to proliferate.

      But lo, on the sixth day, he created morning shows, to destroy memes when their proliferation had become too much.

      And on the seventh day he realized once again what he had wrought, and went back to reading reddit instead of creating anything else that week.

  10. Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” > Courtney Stodden’s “Reality”

  11. Gabe actually likes a meme in which the guy who started it is conveniently in a helmet and nobody can see who he is…..hmm……

  12. I really like this one. This is what keeps Austin Weird: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EA43NbcK1k&feature=youtu.be

  13. I like it because it reminds me of my favorite character from Hot Rod.

  14. Ok so the band Harlem Shakes did not make a million videos, it makes much more sense now.

  15. Ok so the band Harlem Shakes did not make a million videos, it makes much more sense now.

  16. My office did one of these yesterday. And I didn’t know what it was at first, so someone showed me a few of the videos, and I was like haha this is funny let’s do it.

    Then I went online shortly after we posted and looked it up because I wanted to see some other ones, and I was directed to an article that called this the “New Gangnam Style” and I immediately shot myself.

  17. I’ve just read (via The Awl via SocialTimes) that over 4,000 Harlem Shake videos are currently being uploaded every day. That is INSANE. Now I feel weird for never being in a youtube video.

  18. Fuck this meme.
    The Harlem Shake? That’s from the late 80s/early 90s!
    AND: Not a damned one of these videos shows anyone Actually DOING the harlem shake!
    NEW memes! Nooooope, nope

    Sorry I’m all riled up, I just get irked by mildly racist misappropriations of culture that AREN’T even done correctly.

  19. Okay enough! I can’t be the only person on the internet that remembers the Harlem Shake dance from around 2000!?! The very serious dance that was in pretty much every rap video, like what the kids are doing throughout this video:

    http://youtu.be/HyWLaDGvvWI

    I especially loved this because my younger brother was/is an reeeally good dancer and he won dance battles by doing a particularly high speed and flamboyant version of the “real” Harlem Shake back in the heyday of the dance. Yes, we’re so urban.

    But seriously, I’ve seen way too many comment boards that have failed to mention the existence of a non-meme Harlem Shake. Also, I like the Baaur harlem shake meme too…it’s called “trap (another term stolen from hiphop too btw) music” that everyone is dancing to.

  20. Am i the only one being reminded of the ending of BLAIRWITCH PROJECT?

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