The political power of Harlem Shaking
MANILA, Philippines - Viral video and memes in the online world tend to extend beyond virtual borders as they rise in popularity, affecting the physical world in ways we normally wouldn't expect.
Psy's Gangnam Style, for example, received accolades from incumbent UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as a force for world peace.
One case that takes a different approach to the barrier-breaking nature of viral videos is word of the Harlem Shake meme gaining traction as a political and satirical tool.
In the Philippine political context, Philippine Red Cross chairman and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition senatorial candidate Richard Gordon put up a Harlem Shake video starring himself and his grandchildren on February 22.
Outside the Philippines, the New York Times takes note of a number of Harlem Shake-based protests in Tunisia and Egypt.
In Tunisia, clashes between students and conservative Islamists known as Salafists came about as a result of a Harlem Shake video.
The Daily Star reports that Salafists tried and failed to stop the creation of a Harlem Shake video by the students at a language school in the capital of Tunis.
This was followed by a second video, in which protestors used Gangnam Style and the Harlem shake that included the mockery of Islamists.
In Egypt, 400 activists performed the dance meme in front of the office of the Muslim Brotherhood on the evening of February 28, protesting the arrest of 4 pharmaceutical students who performed the Harlem Shake in their underwear in the middle of a middle-class Cairo neighborhood.
This was apparently countered by a Muslim Brotherhood Harlem shake, in which community member Ahmad al-Mogheer put up his own performance of the dance on YouTube. The dancers wore masks of the opposition, the National Salvation Front.
Al-Arabiya reports that the Muslim Brotherhood tried to remove the video over the weekend, but failed to do so after the video proliferated online in another show of virality.
While the popularity of the Harlem Shake meme may wane with time, its current worldwide popularity is providing members of the world community with a means of expressing, if not amusement and fun with family, some semblance of political protest. - Rappler.com