Viral video shakes stratosphere

By Georgie Flynn | Asst. Opinions Editor

By Courtney Downing
By Courtney Downing


Viral videos have been all the rage since YouTube was founded in 2005. These viral videos come up one after another and keep people entertained for some extended period of time. This time around, it’s the Harlem Shake and it has taken some offensive turns.

Personally, I do not understand the Harlem Shake. But from what I can gather, it consists of two things: the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer and people dancing to it in weird situations. But in more ways than one, this video is or has become offensive since the craze first began over a month ago.

The dance in these videos, which is infamously known as the Harlem Shake, is simply people convulsing all over the place like a bunch of animals. It doesn’t take much effort, but it somehow has garnered the world’s attention.

According to a New York Times article written by Kia Gregory on Feb. 28, the type of dance was invented over 30 years ago in New York and was later taken over by the next generation. Although the four-man dance team, Crazy Boys, do this difficult dance, they acknowledge the high attention the “Harlem Shake” has received as a chance to be recognized as dancers, they still find issues with this.

In the article, Maurice Strayhorned, who is known as Motion and was part of Crazy Boyz, was quoted saying, “‘I’m not a hater, but it’s bitter in the sense of, it’s like they’re disrespecting the whole style of dancing.’”
Although the true form of the dance is being insulted in popular video, this is not the only way this video trend has insulted.

The video in its presentation started out originally as something fun. Some people danced to the video in cop costumes and in Mario Brothers costumes, which can be viewed as quite hysterical by audiences across the globe. However, some of these videos seemed to take a strange turn that can be viewed in a negative light. Has this viral video trend gone too far with the different figures and scenarios it depicts with that unforgettable and dreadfully catchy song in the background?

For example, people dressed as the Royal Family (the Queen of England, Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Duchess Kate Middleton) made a video dancing to the Harlem Shake. Although this is all in fun and only meant to be humorous, it’s quite possible that these silly videos have taken it a little bit too far if they are caricaturing the beloved Royals of the UK. One has to determine if dressing up as the royal family and dancing to the Harlem Shake is incredibly humorous or incredibly disrespectful.

This Harlem Shake did not stop at the Royal Family, but also made a mockery of safety regulations. CNN reporters, Mike M. Ahlers and Aaron Cooper covered a story last Wednesday on a Harlem Shake rendition done by a group of college students on a plane. Despite the fact this was a fun idea, this could have ended with terrible and fatal results. According to the article, these college students were on a flight from Denver to San Diego and created the video in mid-air.

CNN revealed in the article the students were given permission, “The students said they had the approval of the flight crew, who let them use the plane’s public address system to tell other passengers about their intentions.” Although the students took proper precautions before performing the “funny” act, they were still in dangerous territory. If this plane hit turbulence, these students could have all been injured. CNN quoted a former director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Accident Investigation: “‘I think there is a safety issue here. Turbulence injuries are the most common type of injuries, and they are virtually eliminated when people are in their seat belts.’”

This viral video, which made “Gangham Style” old news, has become increasingly offensive as people are trying to one up each other for viral attention on YouTube. These videos are offensive in this sense as not only was its humor nonsensical to begin with, but this type of video has given many people a chance to perform different renditions of it, to the point of danger such as the plane in flight, or to the point of disrespect, such as the parody of the royal family in the United Kingdom.

Some people are still making this video a fun and offensive-free web post, but there are some who do not think of other people when creating these videos. The original Harlem Shake dance is not getting the attention it deserves and the scenarios that are potentially harmful have taken this viral video to a negative connotation. Hopefully in the next two weeks a new craze comes around that isn’t offensive in some way and yet still hysterical.

Georgie Flynn is a junior English and print journalism major and can be reached at