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?