Hmm, so maybe I'm ultra-sensitive to this because earlier today I wrote about how important I think it is to use appropriate imagery when reporting on important news stories, i.e. the Westgate terrorist attack in Nairobi, or the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. But so, whatever. I'm ultra-sensitive. Fine. That still doesn't mean these lists aren't terrible. Obviously they're reductive and simplistic and obviously anyone with a healthy sense of cynicism (and that's me, I swear, that's me) should be able to just look at these lists and smirk and move on, but you know what? Sometimes it's really fucking hard to do that, because cynical as I am (and really, that's pretty goddamned cynical) it's sort of horrifying that anyone thinks it's a good idea to take important news stories (some of them involving the deaths of thousands of people) and reduce them to GIFs. So, in honor of my annoyance with Buzzfeed and GIFs and, I guess, the world, here's a bunch of Buzzfeed's most inappropriate uses of GIFs to explain the news.
Republican Leadership Problems As Told By Seinfeld
Why does this one annoy me so much? I mean, it's so easy and fun to laugh at Republican leadership. They're buffoons, they really are. And Seinfeld
is great! And yet this list rubs me the wrong way for the simple reason that in referencing some of the most beloved TV characters of all time, we risk forgetting that the fact that Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress are constantly threatening to fuck with the Affordable Care Act, and any other legislation that goes against their agenda. This is actually kind of a big deal. Our legislative leaders are being held hostage to the Tea Party. While this particular instance won't have any lasting effect on Obamacare, it is still worrisome, made more so by what we've seen happening to healthcare on a state-level. Even so, this is probably the least offensive "explained by GIFs" list BuzzFeed has done. But it's still annoying.
Senate Filibustering As Told By Mean Girl GIFs
Again with the political explanations using beloved fictional characters! How dumb does BuzzFeed think its readers are? Is it really too hard to explain things without using references to the word "fetch," a word that we all know is never going to happen
? Filibustering is actually not that hard of a concept to understand, it does not need the help of Glen Coco. And instead, what you have again, is a case of BuzzFeed being reductive, but failing to adequately explain what it is even addressing. But still! This is not as bad as BuzzFeed gets. Not even close.
The Story of Egypt's Revolution in Jurassic Park GIFs
Now, here's the thing. I will find almost any reason to use a Jeff Goldblum myself
. The man is a
god. But! Seriously, BuzzFeed? Using GIFs from a Steven Spielberg movie to explain the bloody, chaotic, ongoing revolution in Egypt? I mean, have you no shame? Stick to what you know, BuzzFeed list makers. By which I mean, puppies. You do lists of puppies better than anyone else. Because, not only is this GIF-explanation tacky and offensive, it also utilizes a political sensibility that even a five-year-old would find simplistic.
Obama Asks the Hill to Bomb Syria, as Explained by MTV's The Hills
And so! This might just be the worst thing BuzzFeed's done with GIFs. It was a tough decision; the Egypt/Jurassic Park
mash-up was pretty terrible. But at least that had Goldblum. Explaining the decision-making process behind whether or not we are going to engage in military action in Syria using images of Heidi Montag and Audrina Patridge is unforgivable. I don't get it. Is there some higher goal here of having readers who are not normally politically engaged learn something by appealing to their basest interests? I guess that's the best possible excuse that BuzzFeed could make. But still, it's not good enough. What's horrible about this is that BuzzFeed has done some excellent political reporting, and so clearly the readership is there for lofty pieces. I find it hard to believe that this is anything except trolling at its most basic level. And even though this is also a site that posts all sorts of inane lists that are meant to generate massive traffic without caring overmuch about content, that doesn't mean that the site needs to lower itself when it comes to important issues like those we face globally and nationally. Alright. End of rant. I'm going to go look at pictures of baby hedgehogs now.
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