The Harlem Shake – a little overdone, but ultimately harmless, right? Wrong.
18 Colorado College students, on their way to an ultimate Frisbee tournament in San Diego, staged a Harlem shake as the plane soared over the Rocky Mountains.
The students said they had the approval of the flight crew, who let them use the plane’s public address system to tell other passengers about their intentions.
According to this story from CNN, the FAA is looking into the 31-second video recorded on February 15. And according to the story’s headline, the FAA is “not amused.” The article lays out some of the problems [bold added to draw your attention]:
Airline pilots, flight attendants and others say the fad presents serious safety and security problems.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Jim Tilmon, a retired 29-year airline pilot. “A commercial airplane in flight… is not a dance hall, it’s not an entertainment stage, it’s not any of those things.”
“It’s cute, novel, all that sort of stuff,” he said, adding, “Wrong place, wrong time.”
Hold it right there. The Harlem Shake might be cute, and it might be “all that sort of stuff”, but if there’s one thing it’s not, it’s novel. And forget the ubiquitous libaries, basketball arenas, basements, subways, Daily Show studios, and all the other locations in which you’ve seen it happen — it’s not even novel when it happens in, on, or around an airplane:
This might be the only remotely novel or clever entry (but also the most dangerous):
That’s just the first page of Youtube results for “harlem shakes plane” – leaving out the numerous videos dedicated to the flight under investigation by the FAA. As I said, if anything, it’s certainly not novel.
Just one question remains to be answered: what exactly are the safety risks incurred by the performance of the Harlem Shake in flight? After all, check out the first ad that pops up when you search “harlem shakes plane”:
If Boeing (and… Embraer — did I spell that right?) can land a plane in “nearly any condition” — presumably including shaking, as we just saw — and the FAA is still concerned about the taping of this video, the Harlem Shake must be pretty dangerous, right?
I would like to suggest that the real flight risk is not posed by people jumping around in the aisles, causing the plane to rattle, impeding other passengers, making it impossible for flight attendants to communicate with passengers, confusing air marshals (one l, huh?), violating seat-belt rules, or turning bodies into “some kind of missile” — just some of the concerns expressed in the CNN article — but from the simple fact that whoever managed to capture this footage was obviously using an electronic device in contravention of FAA safety rules. After all, if Harlem shakes on a plane and no one is around to record it, how many hits will it get on Youtube?
So great job, Harlem Shakers: you might just have managed to force the FAA to reconsider its three month-old decision to allow greater use of electronic devices in flight.
By far my biggest disappointment is that there is not one single video posted to Youtube titled simply “Harlem Shakes on a Plane” (though a number of news organizations reporting on this story have titled stories that way because bad puns is what the media is for).
I will now conclude this post with the obligatory words of Samuel L. Jackson: I have had it with these motherfucking shakes on these motherfucking planes!