It’s the Internet meme that won’t go away, and now it’s getting people in trouble. According to the Associated Press, the mining company Barminco has fired as many as 15 workers at an Australian gold mine after eight miners were videotaped doing a version of the mega-viral Harlem Shake dance routine underground while on the job.
The AP story, based on a report from an Australian newspaper, quoted a dismissal letter from the company that said recording the video violated its “core values of safety, integrity and excellence.” The report also said the men had lost jobs with six-figure salaries, as there is a mining boom in the Outback region of Australia where the mine is located.
The workers’ dismissal comes after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating an incident where students from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., posted a Harlem Shake video on YouTube that was recorded by the school’s Ultimate Frisbee team during a flight to San Diego. The FAA said it was worried about the safety issues involved with dozens of passengers jumping up and down in the aisle of a passenger jet in midflight.
Just in case you aren’t aware of what the Harlem Shake Internet meme is, it’s any 30-second video uploaded to YouTube in which, for the first 15 seconds, a group of people stand around indifferently while a lone person dances to the song Harlem Shake by Baauer. At the 15-second mark, the video cuts to the whole group dancing around wildly to the song, and then it ends promptly at 30 seconds with a lion’s growl added to the soundtrack.
The videos are almost always 30 seconds long. The first one was uploaded to YouTube by kids in, ironically, Australia on Feb. 10. By Feb. 15, some 40,000 Harlem Shake videos had been uploaded, garnering more than 175 million views. The song, Harlem Shake, has since become a hit.
Everyone from Norwegian soldiers to famous athletes to university students in their dorm at McGill University have uploaded versions of the meme. More and more are uploaded to YouTube every day, and now Fox Television has created a Simpsons version as a promotion for the popular animated TV show.
Supporters of the fired Australian miners have launched a Facebook page as part of a campaign to get them reinstated. In the meantime, we’re waiting for this summer when someone attempts to record a Harlem Shake video in a canoe, something only a Canadian could do.