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USAF Harlem Shake “Incredibly Inappropriate”


by Jason Smathers on June 23, 2013

USAF Harlem ShakeUS Air Force officials condemned a rendition of the Internet meme, “Harlem Shake” by airmen as “incredibly inappropriate.” This meme went viral in February of 2013. The format of each video begins with a person dancing, typically wearing some unusual costume in front of people who appear unaware of the dancer. The video then cuts to the same people, but all in unusual outfits and all dancing. The version condemned by General Jones was in an air traffic control tower at Edwards. This version is no longer online.

A string of emails obtained by Witnesses Unto Me via the Freedom of Information Act show Larry Clavette, director of Air Force Public Affairs Agency wrote to Air FOrce Public Affairs officers requesting them not to support or post harlem shake videos on their websites. He explains:

Many of these videos contain questionable behavior and dress by people participating in them. As a reminder, regardless of the method of communication used, Air Force standards must be observed at all times, both on and off-duty. Airmen must avoid offensive and/or inappropriate behavior on social networking platforms and through other forms of communication that could bring discredit upon the Air Force or Airmen…

Although many of these videos contain questionable behavior which is also not appropriate for redistribution on Witnesses Unto Me, below is a harlem shake video done by an Air Force group which appears to be silly, yet inoffensive to demonstrate the concept:

Email records from the US Air Force received via FOIA follow.

The Harlem Shake and Air Force Standards

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