Annals of Shark Jumping: Will Politics Kill the Harlem Shake?

Team Mitch Harlem Shake|Team Mitch|YouTube

Con los terroristas!

One problem with cool things is that, eventually, they catch on too widely, everyone starts copying them, and suddenly they're not so cool anymore. The Harlem Shake is one of those things; it's a super-inclusive, funtastic, deep-bass-driven party time - but at some point, its cachet could reach a limit.

Maybe it won't, but the possibility looms.

Politicians might not be helping matters. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio started it all by asking via Twitter who, in the U.S. Senate, would be likeliest to appear in a Harlem Shake video. Last week, the campaign staff of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - one of America's most stoic legislators in public persona - decided to Harlem Shake things up and recorded this video at Churchill Downs:

A day earlier, the Orlando Sentinel spied some Florida State senators recording a Harlem Shake video at the state capitol in Tallahassee:

For Shake-lovers, this could be worrisome: Are partiers worldwide prepared to share the Shake with such a superficially stodgy province, a GOP Senate campaign and a bunch of old guys in the Florida legislature?

This development could be a good thing for both politics and the Harlem Shake. Maybe America should feel good that some of its most powerful and civic-minded not only know what the Harlem Shake is, but actually know how to do it. (McConnell's campaign earns compliments for successful use of costumes, despite the McConnell-mask-wearing partial rendition of The Carlton.) If the Harlem Shake is about inclusion, then the above videos are celebrations of its essence, about as far from Harlem in geography and spirit as one can get.

Will politics kill the Harlem Shake? Or will the Harlem Shake help politics finally to transform itself into a dance-party venue, which is what politics always should have been? And if the Harlem Shake is being appropriated for public-relations campaigns and political purposes, does that diminish anyone else's enjoyment?

It's hard to say what all this means. Only time will tell, etc.

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