Saturday, May 12, 2012

Power to the .GIF

This past week, Obama announced his support for gay marriage for the 2012 election. After the announcement was made, 24 hours couldn't have passed when I stumbled upon several internet memes that commented on this news. Among the bombardment of memes, I came upon a Tumblr blog called "When Obama Endorsed Marriage Equality", a .gif collection of supposed reactions from certain people and celebrity figures, such as news anchors...

" anchors were all like:"

"bloggers were like:


 and my personal favorite, the reactions of Obama, the Clintons, Barbra Streisand and Nancy Pelosi.

"… high-powered Democrats got in on the #equalitydanceparty"

This was a humorous way for the owner of the blog to show support for Obama's decision, and other Tumblr users added to the collection by using the hash tag: #equalitydanceparty.

Although the posts may conjure laughs from the viewer, there is also an underlying meaning of support and a statement on the significance of Obama's statement for the members and supporters for the gay community. There were also some .gifs added that were the supposed reactions of people against this decision, most depicted in a negative manner.

What's interesting is most of these .gifs were created before Obama made this decision, most of them were merely clips from popular films and television shows that the creators posted because they were humorous or for other reasons. But when they were added to this blog with small captions from the blog creator, the re-appropriation of the meaning created a strong, apparent statement for marriage equality.

Although these clips are not human rights images that aim to evoke empathy and resentment of the oppressing power from the viewer like the "IRAN They don't care about us" video, the use of humor and familiar images is no less effective in creating an intended message.

But both of these examples do have a similarity: collecting images to make a .gif like the examples above or creating a photograph slideshow and adding music like the "IRAN" video are simple for many internet users to make; especially those who grew up with the Internet, like most college students. Ideally, many of them could make their own intended message and spread their opinions, and make their voices heard within the realm of the Internet.


  1. This is a great story to illustrate how we are expanding what "digital journalism" could mean and how we understand news consumption and production in the Internet age. Although curating and disseminating animated gifs may seem like a relatively trivial activity, you make a persuasive case for why Internet memes are part of how users indicate their participation with (and virtual reaction to) news stories.

  2. I think this speaks to the age range of the audience that uses .GIFs to visually express their opinions. Obviously, this is very digitally oriented, so I feel like these kinds of means allows a broader youthful integration of news opinion to the traditional world of news. I've always felt that because the news is seen as professional, it is meant for an older audience. The formality of news doesn't really reach the youth because they are a lot more casual. So with the animation, younger audience can relate to opinion because they know these memes.