A five-minute video? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Not to watch one, or to make one. But Harlem Shake dance videos are capped at 30 seconds. That’s why we’re so willing to watch just one more incarnation, and why it’s easy to recruit friends to make them. The result is one of the most pervasive gags in history. A “Symbiotic Meme,” the Harlem Shake has a lesson to teach all content creators.
Give people a formula, and they’ll substitute in their own variables. Most people just aren’t all that creative. They’re not going to come up with some entertaining meme on their own. With a little structure, though, our minds fill in the blanks.
To break it down, the Harlem Shake meme is:
[14T x (A1 + V1)] => Δ => [14T x (A2 + V2)] => [2T x (A3+V3)]
[14 seconds of (build-up music) played as (one person passively…
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