description:

My work continues scholarship in the area of Digital Rhetorics that shape social change within peoples' lives. I research poststructural expressions of identity/ies to engage how people shape meaning through the technologies they choose to advocate within their communities. My interdisciplinary media and rhetorical scholarship engages the contextual spaces of the internet/WWW, gaming, and mobile devices.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Digital Dialectic of (the) Harlem Shake?

The other day while preparing for my Digital Rhetorics class, I was reading Warnick's Rhetoric Online text and found myself at the Viral Video Chart. One of the videos, Harlem Shake, caught my attention and I was fascinated by the array of parodies and (re)presentations of this video-the simulacrum being performed/created by various groups of people appearing to be male of white, European descent (and even one of Starcraft). Some of the videos were physically graphic and sexually charged in ways that prompted me to wonder what motivated these videos. After coming across an instructional video on the Harlem Shake, I considered that the "real" these videos might be imitating might be a form of dance which generated out of Harlem. 

Today a friend posted a response video to the Harlem Shake video meme developing on the web that offers some insight into the foundation and "real" of the Harlem Shake.


Interestingly the response video was also made by a male of white, European descent. (what killed me was when one of the interviewees mentioned that a corporation would attempt to capitalize on the popularity of this meme...hello, Pepsi, with Jeff Gordon?)

All these videos illustrate not only Baudrillard's concepts of simulation and simulacra, but also Burke's parlor metaphor of an unending conversation of race as it plays out in youtube. 

Further we should consider that within digital space most of the digital dialectic is between white people. Even if they are attempting to represent people of color and Harlem, the frame (questions, responses, etc.) are still from their direct(ive) and perspective. Further even with the various representations of the Harlem Shake, consider the search terms and popularity. A search on youtube or even google for "Harlem Shake" prompts a overwhelming, mob mentality (dark side of crowdsourcing)-a hegemony through popularity for the simulacrum over the "real."

We all have a part in conversations about the social construction of race...but how can conversations compete with/perform with media savvy? How are people moving meaning and what constraints limit one's "fitting response"?

Further I contemplated the cultural appropriation of people considered to "others." Although I understand that many of these videos unintentionally move racial meaning, there is meaning in the choice of artifacts to move meaning to the meaning that is moved. The vehicle embodies cultural dynamics and is a reverent to the historic concern/reduction/diffusion of race as only entertainment.

So where does this monologue leave me? ...continuing to wonder about how we communicate with one another within digital contexts and how that has changed and stayed the same as physical ones. I continue to see how numbers of expressions matter within a digital "democracy" as does access to digital "language" and form. Pedagogically I remind myself that only those who seek will learn and others may be willing to be content with panem et circenses...but can the reduction bring about a dialectic? an engagement with intertextuality?

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For a few more examples of instructional videos on the Harlem Shake on youtube, use the terms "Harlem Shake instruction."

14 comments:

z4ndyr said...

I cannot believe the wealth of info i am finding on this meme! Check out the Miami Heat-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir2TdfSwH8g

as well as the sports commentators response to come!

z4ndyr said...

and Harlem reclaims the
Harlem Shake video(s) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkx__UYqEk4

z4ndyr said...

Minnesota Timberwolves?!?! What is wrong with people?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVW-ZeMeh5E

z4ndyr said...

I'm trying to wrap my head around this interpretation on Urban Dictionary of the Harlem Shake....

z4ndyr said...

http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2013/03/01/faa-investigates-harlem-shake-skit-on-frontier-airlines-flight/1955937/

z4ndyr said...

Organizations or brands with Harlem Shake videos

z4ndyr said...

more brands that have colonized the Harlem Shake. colonized...how appropriate

z4ndyr said...

dance's connection with protest and control? http://mashable.com/2013/02/23/student-suspended-harlem-shake/

z4ndyr said...

http://www.theroot.com/views/harlem-shakedown

z4ndyr said...

http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/stop-the-presses/group-friends-arrested-russia-doing-harlem-shake-wwii-182415999.html

z4ndyr said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2283840/Four-Egyptian-students-arrested-doing-Harlem-Shake-underwear.html

z4ndyr said...

http://www.michigandaily.com/opinion/viewpoint-harlem-shake

z4ndyr said...

z4ndyr said...