The GIF Bite Election

Matt Bors
Matt Bors
Oct 23, 2015 · 2 min read

Yesterday’s marathon Benghazi hearing was designed to generate a negative sound bite that could be used against Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency, one errant remark played on an endless loop during constitutionally protected attack ads funded by billionaires.

Coming out of the other other hearing, where her flippant remark, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” was put on worldwide blast by conservatives, she was unerringly calm. The hearing was a flop. She didn’t give them anything, but she did give us something: reaction gifs. The currency of the web, accrued and spent faster than even sound can be chopped and screwed, and Hillary handed us a band of them yesterday.

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Theory: while Republicans were playing for the sound bite, Hillary was playing to the gif, perhaps the first politician in history to consciously do so.

HillaryBored.gif is the complete encapsulation of the all-day hearing in just two seconds, which is about all the time the hearing warrants of your attention. You don’t need write ups, hot takes, and CNN panels convened to know how it went. You just look at the GIF and pass it on.

Take this one:

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Casual, common brushing of the shoulder? Or calculated media strat cooked up by Hillary’s yet-unkown Lead GIF Advisor?

Don’t think this matters? Here are some of today’s headlines:

  • 8 times Hillary Clinton didn’t care, in GIFs
  • Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi Committee, in gifs
  • This Is The Greatest Hillary Clinton Benghazi Reaction GIF Ever (IMAGE)

GIFs matter. Even if it presents a false narrative or cuts out crucial context — like the sound bite of yore — a fast-traveling GIF bite will prove devastating for candidates unable to preemptively supply the public with GIF-fable reactions and gestures that fit their campaign’s narrative. The 2016 election may very well hinge on a four second loop of an image file developed by CompuServe in 1987.

Nixon sweating. Bush I checking his watch. Dukakis in a tank. This election will produce GIFs that will negatively shape the perception of candidates until the day they leave earth.

Those candidates need to sit down tonight and seriously address their GIF plan.

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