Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

February 22, 2013

Shaking up pop culture

By Rebecca Todd
CNHI

— Sometimes while researching a story on pop culture, I must endure heinous sights and horrid stories of contemptible human idiocy.

I once visited a monster convention. Remember the little baby that came back from the dead in "Pet Semetary" and went on a killing spree? If you do, Lord help you, because that was a horrible movie. But I got his autograph anyway. Then I was followed for the rest of the day by some guy dressed as Michael Meyers from the "Halloween" movies. I had to explain to him that it could never work out between us. I'm married and, you know ... he's a nutcase. I think he took it well.

Then there was the time I wrote about the cat running for the Senate. There was a lot of stimulating cat research involved there, and I have to tell you, cats freak me out. I'm the kind of person that goes online and screams when I see what is supposed to be a cute kitty with a caption under it saying, "Can I haz cookie?" Because no, you can't haz cookie, because we all know you would rather pounce on and devour a slimy rodent live than haz cookie. Not cute.

I've written about the apocalypse preppers three times, including a piece on people prepping for the zombie apocalypse. Suffice it to say these are not the brightest people in the world; or the richest. They choose to spend their money on supplies to protect themselves from the undead. I'm pretty sure I probably ran into a few of these people at the monster convention, because it's always good to know your enemy.

But this week, I topped out when I decided to look into the phenomenon known as the "Harlem Shake." Big mistake.

I'd been hearing about the Harlem Shake for a couple of weeks, but when I heard my daughters talking about this particular piece of pop culture, I knew I had to check into it. So I turned to the all-seeing, all-knowing Internet.

However, after a grueling 10 minutes of watching the Harlem Shake online, I have to say - and I hope this doesn't make me sound like an old poop - I don't get it.

Here's how it works: one person dances randomly, often wearing some sort of wacky costume, while everyone ignores him. Then, presumably overcome by the heinous music, everyone is dancing; if you want to call it dancing. It looks more like a mass seizure. This makes sense because if you've ever heard the "song" by DJ and producer Baauer, you understand how it might induce a mass seizure. It's horrendous.

I have to say, if I had to choose between watching more Harlem Shake videos, looking at cat pictures, talking to apocalypse preppers, or being stalked by a man so obsessed with a fictional, unkillable, psychotic mass murderer that he dresses like him and goes to monster conventions, I'm going to go with the stalker.

Why? Because when I asked him to, he went away. Granted, he probably just went on to stalk someone else.

The others? No matter how much I wish they would just go away, it looks like they're here to stay.

At least until some worse pop culture phenomenon comes along.

- Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and the author of the book "What's the Point?" available at booklocker.com. Contact her at btodd@tds.net.