The Arab Street Responds To Fear Of Memes By Producing Tons Of Meme Videos

from the harlem-sheikh dept

You will remember the nation of Tunisia for being a flash point of the Arab Spring revolution, in which social media and the internet played a massive role, as well as for the post-revolution government’s subsequent crackdown on those tools that brought them into power. There seems to be something of an ongoing problem within Middle East governments, in that they simply don’t recognize how to handle popular dissent, often taking on the very characteristics of the dissenter’s complaints to an almost caricature level. In that respect, while it may sound silly, any government learning to deal with the open communication system of the net is going to have to come to terms with memes and the manner in which they spread.

Which brings us back to Tunisia. They seem to have a problem with this Gangam Style, Harlem Shake combo-video produced by some apparently fun-loving Tunisian students (the original was taken down due to a highly questionable copyright claim, by the way, because while even the Tunisian government wasn’t evil enough to block the video, a bogus DMCA claim had no such qualms).

For reasons that will never make sense to me, the Tunisian government apparently had a problem with the video and its popularity, prompting an investigation. And if you think about it for five seconds, you’ve probably already guessed what the response from Tunisia’s people has been.

They danced en masse to the song and posted their exploits on YouTube. That prompted a quarter of a million hits and reports of an investigation by the country’s minister of education and that prompted a backlash. Video after video after video of Tunisians proudly doing the Harlem shake in defiance.

Dear Tunisian people: congratulations! You’ve officially been made full members of the internet community now that you’ve engaged in trolling your own government as a form of protest. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll be naming soft drinks after fluid-expelling geriatrics.

Over in Egypt, the government didn’t stop at a simple investigation, however. Four students were arrested for taking part in this Harlem Shake video shot in front of the Giza pyramids.


The response? A massive protest Harlem Shake performed directly in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters.

Sorry, Middle East governments, but the people have spoken, and they want their damned memes. And, actually, that brings to mind the obvious question: how the hell are memes a threat to you to begin with?

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Comments on “The Arab Street Responds To Fear Of Memes By Producing Tons Of Meme Videos”

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22 Comments
jameshogg says:

Copyright: more important than revolutions?

Watch as fools will try to say how all of this should be censored in the name of copyright. Absolute, fucking, fools.

Similar to how they would have censored the pirated copies of Animal Farm and 1984 that were circulating among those being oppressed by the Soviet Union in the name of, get this, “fighting the communist-pirate agenda”. Either it is “communist”, “terrorist”, or just plain “thief”. The one with the most interchangeable but contradictory insults is usually the one who is wrong.

We all know that SOPA and PIPA would have resembled the Soviet Union’s methods of oppression as well as the Great Firewall of China’s. They are in no fucking position to be saying they are “against communists”. And we all know the piracy rate would have gone UP as a result of those laws just like China’s piracy rate is 80% despite the Great Firewall. No amount of common sense gets through to the copyright maximalists whatsoever.

But maybe this will. There IS one country in the world that has probably reduced their piracy rate to 0%, due to the fact that its citizens probably do not know what arts actually are, and that is North Korea. So maybe it is possible!

Michael (profile) says:

Argument

how the hell are memes a threat to you to begin with

Clearly, they promote the child sex trade. Why are you supporting the child sex trade? What kind of person are you to be exploiting children this way? It is terrible I tell you. TERRIBLE!

We need to censor this for the sake of the children! You and other supporters of selling children into the sex trade should be ashamed.

Pete Austin says:

how the hell are memes a threat to you to begin with?

They cause disorder. “[A] prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise” – The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli
http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince17.htm

Blatant Coward (profile) says:

Memes become traditions

“…Coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion and the technology of building arches.”

Isn’t this how religions start?

jameshogg says:

Re: Memes become traditions

Yes it is. The best way to describe memes is the “natural selection of ideas”. Religions are superstitious nonsense that manifest from our tendencies to see patterns where no patterns exist, as well as our fear of death – and because all humans are similar in this respect, it is easy to see why a common idea that best suits the need for illusions would survive and spread.

It also explains why certain religions are more prominent in certain areas around the globe: simply being around a religious culture will make you more prone to taking on the ideas yourself, and is especially true when it comes to childhood indoctrination.

Memes and cultures are intertwined, and it is undoubtedly true that the internet is manifesting cultures of its own with its own memes due to the ease of putting together a video with a cheap camera, internet connection and CTRL C+V on a keyboard.

But yet, all this CTRL-Ving has to be resisted and oppressed according to copyright believers. This is hysterically delusional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Those in power in autocratic countries see this as people organising themselves, which is a direct threat to their power. They will do everything in their power to prevent the people organising themselves.
The whole objective of a states repression of its people is to destroy their trust in each other, and so stop them from organising themselves in opposition to the state.

out_of_the_blue says:

Timmy the (blind) Middle East expert.

>>> “There seems to be something of an ongoing problem within Middle East governments,”

WELL, the CIA is funding all those “popular” uprisings, and then at chosen time US (and NATO) military gives direct support, as in Libya. Anyone who honestly asks how large groups of militants suddenly pop up in country after country well supplied with weapons will find the obvious absolutely nailed down, no “theory” about it.

Here’s just one typical recent item:

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2013/03/confirmed-us-shipping-weapons-to-syria.html

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