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

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - HUMOUR SPECIAL - by Su­joy Singha

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!

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