I love teh interwebs, and I’m pretty sure you do, too. Why else would you be here, reading (scrolling, swiping, tapping, typing)? The internet has everything, and I mean everything. It has helped me pass my surgery exams, cook for my family, fix a laptop bug, m-pesa my bills, find the way through the maze that is Hurlingham, watch movies, identify and listen to songs I was starting to think I’d made up, hear from strangers all over the world… and that’s just the above-board stuff.
One of the best things about the web is that, like so much humanity has created, it’s absolutely neutral. Blank canvas. Do what you want with it. And so, like many human creations, it has produced material of staggering genius and staggering banality.
Somewhere in the middle of this scale lie memes.
An Internet meme (pron.: /ˈmiːm/ meem) is a concept that spreads from person to person via the Internet. The concept of a meme was defined and described by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads; internet memes are a subset of this, specific to the culture and environment of the internet.
That’s from the Wikipedia entry on memes. Go on and check it out, it’s pretty interesting. See? Internet!
So. Memes. Pretty awesome for a day or two after discovery, they quickly devolve into eye-gouging annoyances as people with far too much time on their hands jump on board and give the world their interpretation, which no one really asked for, in the hope that they’ve somehow hit on that magical elusive formula that’ll catapult them to fame. (Secretly, everyone wants to be Psy. Why else do we vet our tweets and pick flattering avatars?)
But I digress.
Last week, I kept reading and hearing about the Harlem shake. It seemed everyone was doing one. For some reason, this meme had crossover Kenyan appeal. Finally, frustration and curiosity led to me to look it up on know your meme.com. A couple of videos and the concise analysis had me… mildly interested. (I’m a sucker for serious, deep-down formulaic analyses of silly things.) Hmmm, I thought.
The same day, in separate incidents, my brother and housemates mentioned the appeal of making their own Harlem shake vid. It was serendipity. Fate. We said we’d do it. Then we didn’t.
Two nights later, they came home a wee bit drunk, bearing friends and Teacher’s and Jameson and determination. It was more than fate, it was lack of inhibition. Despite a lot of resistance from me (it was past midnight), we did it.
And you know what? I get it. I get the appeal of filming yourself and friends on whatever gadget is around, stitching it together and then uploading it. We spent about two hours doing takes, messing about with props and the set, and generally having a ball. Two of the people present were fairly new to the circle, but through the sheer joy of fooling around, they gelled flawlessly. There was laughter, ugali and fried eggs. We upset a potted plant accidentally on purpose, turned the house upside down, exchanged clothing and didn’t even need the extra whisky. I’m here to tell you, making a meme tribute video is a riot, and the next time a fun-looking one catches your eye, you should grab a few friends and go nuts. Act a fool. You know you want to.
This is the video. Check it out. Or not. We had a bet going on number of views it would gather, and I’ve already lost.
What? We all want to be Psy, remember?