Abstract for presentation at the 2013 Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association’s 34th Annual Conference, February 13-16, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. http://www.swtxpca.org/
Riffing and the Use of Animated Gifs as Remediation and Personal-Political Reclamation
In October 2012, the Twitter meme Sorry Feminists enjoyed a brief burst of popularity. The meme started as a response to editor Deborah Needleman referring to feminist author Katie Roiphe as “The sexy (sorry, feminists), smart, sassy Katie Roiphe….” Although later revealed by Needleman to be a joke, the meme tagged #sorryfeminists took off. The meme intended to undermine the ideas that certain actions or sartorial or life choices are not feminist. The meme briefly immigrated over to a Tumblr blog of the same name. Each post on the Sorry Feminists! Blog included single animated gifs with a brief text response to what supposed unfeminist action it was apologizing for. Animated gifs tend to be brief actions taken out of context of films, television shows, music videos, and other moving images. When used online, especially in fan communities, animated gifs tend to be used humorously in place of a verbal reaction. The gifs function as a visual riff rather than a verbal, but they still share a lineage with the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. This paper examines the remediation involved in using animated gifs, particularly in attempts to subvert notions held within and outside of an ideological concept.