“Smashing!” Welcome to the world of Nigel Thornberry, where a splash of his face here and there goes a long way. As seen in the many GIF examples given, Nigel’s face is very entertainingly pasted on top of another character’s face. Nigel Thornberry originates from a Nickelodeon children’s show which aired from 1998 to 2004, titled The Wild Thornberrys. In the plethora of gifs seen on the web, his well-known catch phrases are “Smashing!” and “BLALALARGHARGHRAH”, creating a memorable experience out of familiarity for the reader. Following this pattern created by the previous gifs, the new gif made in this category was created with a scene from WALL-E, where once a closer cut is made, Nigel Thornberry’s face is then pasted on top of EVE’s face.
The Nigel Thornberry GIF’s are generally made with GIF’s from late 1990s and early 2000s ‘classic’ Disney movies, but can be made with any subject matter and still belong to the same genre. In fact, they could come straight from The Wild Thornberry’s itself, but as long as the GIF has Nigel’s face in it, it belongs to the genre. This remix of ‘classic’ Disney movies with Nigel’s face is precisely what Limor Shifman means to address in When Memes Go Digital. Shifman describes the choice between mimicry, simply reproducing the subject with new people or in other ways, and remixing, which transforms the media using technology such as Photoshop (Shifman 22). By applying this remix to ‘classic’ Disney films using Nigel’s face, they can be linked to a nostalgic factor which lies in all of the GIF’s in this genre.
In the article, Why We Love Animated GIFs, author Leigh Alexander discusses the nostalgic factor certain GIFs bring – what Nancy Bayme calls a ‘social cue’ in Personal Connections in the Digital Age (Bayme 53). Alexander states most GIFs are made with material from the 1980s and 1990s and it is a “nostalgia for the simpler childhood of the demographic most likely to be making GIFs”. This article was written in 2011, and it still rings true with some slight adjustments. Now, it has been shifted to the late 1990s and early 2000s where the demographic of people likely to be making GIFs lies. This has led to the culmination of the Nigel Thornberry GIF’s. This social cue of nostalgia, is the primary element in the Nigel Thornberry GIF. Since there is a pattern of the GIF’s to include clips from Disney movies, such as Hercules, Mulan and countless others, it is
easy to assume this. It is not quite clear what other social cues this GIF may portray. In one example shown, it shows the text from the movie which the clip derives from, but this example is an outlier and there are no other prominent number of GIF’s in
this genre which follow that pattern. The only text likely to be shown are Nigel’s catchphrases, and these could be interpreted to fit into any conversation. Due to the obnoxious nature of Nigel himself, these GIF’s may best fit into the category of tools for internet trolls to use, but the primary use of this GIF appears to be to invoke nostalgia in the viewers.
GIF’s after all, are made by many different people and can be made and used for many different reasons, and even through our best attempts to describe them in one genre, they may appear to others to belong some where completely different.
Alexander, Leigh. “Why We Love Animated GIFs.” Thought Catalog. N.p., 24 May 2011. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.
Shifman, Limor. “When Memes Go Digital.” Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge: MIT, 1974. N. pag. Print.
Baym, Nancy K. “Communication in Digital Spaces.” Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. N. pag. Print.