THE GIF OF THE GAB
What’s so funny about watching a cat falling in an endless loop? See the GIF if you’re still asking
CHAPTER 6 From humble flashy animations on a Geocities page in the early days of the Internet, the GIF has come a long way. Thanks to Tumblr and the social wave that came with it, the humble GIF isn’t humble anymore. It is more mainstream than ever, and has helped invent its own take on humour.
It is inexplicable why we find it so amusing to see a cat jump in the air and land into a pool of water repeatedly. It’s something that cannot be captured by a single frame, no matter how funny the caption. There is something hypnotic and simply addictive about a GIF image that encapsulates that moment in sort of a time warp. We feel, in that captured moment, that the universe is trying to show us what we exactly want to see.
And that is true of the Internet, specifically of Internet humour. We speak of how, with multiple TV channels, we are spoilt for choice, and how TV shows are at the mercy of the audience’s remote. Compare that to how the Internet functions. You better be good enough to hold our attention, or you’ll be clicked away and sent into the deep recesses of anonymity. If you are indeed good enough, you rise, you are liked, and shared, and become the ‘front page’. Unlike traditional media, the Internet is brutally honest, profane, and yet highly encouraging if you can strike the right chord.
While the poor folks watching Indian TV are force fed daily soaps and unfunny “funny” shows (*cough* Babaji ka Thullu *cough*), our Internet brethren have taken the matter into their own hands, quite literally.
With the ever-expanding universe of social media, we are fast becoming our own content creators. I created my Tumblr page in 2009, when there was hardly any desi or Bollywood content on Tumblr, be it GIFs, memes or comic strips. A search on Tumblr now returns multiple results on even the most obscure search items: Karan Johar giggling over Salman Khan’s virginity claim, a melodramatic entry by a super Kserial bahu, or the contorted face of Deepika, as she gets ready to kick SRK’s butt. If you can think of it, chances are someone’s already GIF-ed it.
And yet, it never seems to stop. We as a nation are never going to run out of source material. From Rahul Gandhi jokes to IPL matches, Modi fanboyism to Bollywood clashes, there’s a reaction GIF to reflect every emotion and every other occasion. Sounds like a MasterCard ad. Oh, wait! we have a GIF for that too. I remember watching The
Prisoner of Azkaban, and seeing the moving mugshot of Sirius Black in the film. We live in the era where that magic is true and it is very funny.
Picture perfect is passé. Videos are a bit much. GIFs are the middle ground: tiny, three-four second videos – and so funny!