A common way for fans of a popular television show or movie to connect is through the spreading of GIFs they either created or have come across. GIFs act as a shared social phenomenon where someone in Justin, Texas can form an immediate bond with someone in Blackpool, England by sharing a looping animated picture of the faces of American Horror Story characters on the dancing bodies of Mean Girls characters. But what is it about these moving graphics that make them so fascinating to us? In her post Why We Love Animated GIFs, Leigh Alexander describes why the phenomenon is so attention grasping by stating, “The animated GIF’s ability to preserve a single moment for endless viewing, to be forever owned to the last pixel by the eyes, gives it the unique opportunity to revive that fascination; tiny movements that would be lost in the grand landscape of a larger work become almost precious when isolated by themselves.” As captivating as the images are, there must be something about them that connects the people who share them. Usually, the most personal connections that people have with each other involve face-to-face contact, a quality GIFs do not have. Nancy K. Baym brought up the issue of how personal digital media really is in her book Personal Connections in the Digital Age, “Because computer-mediated interactions are unable to see, hear, and feel one another, they cant use the usual cues conveyed by appearance, nonverbal signals, and features of the physical context.” I believe that the reason we all find GIFs so enjoyable is because we can instantly be connected to another online user by viewing an image that may be from your own favorite show or movie and it triggers a feeling of nostalgia.
But what is better than seeing a nonstop loop of 2 seconds of your favorite show? Combining multiple of your favorite things into a nonstop 2 second loop! The American Horror Story fandom loves a good GIF of seeing one of their favorite characters flipping a bus or sawing someone in half, but we have a funny bone too. In order to have a good GIF that others will like, it must be relatable. These two popular AHS (American Horror Story) GIFs kept in mind what other users will find relatable:
The users (kevin-b146-anderson and sckrpnch) used two well known scenes from the FX television show and added in two things most of the users have in common: a love for Beyonce and an obsession with tumblr. Assuming that most of the online community considers Beyonce their “Queen” was a safe bet, and posting the GIF about how distracting tumblr is on the tumblr website was an even safer one. After observing what made other AHS GIFs so popular and being a fan of American Horror Story for years, I decided to try and make my own GIF. I used a popular scene from the fourth season of AHS where the villain, Dandy, tries to get a closer look at the “freaks” he is so fascinated with. I wanted to make my GIF unique and relatable so I wanted to replace the actual American Horror Story freaks with a family that most of America considers freaks. I combined two clips from the two different shows American Horror Story and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in photoshop and saved them for the web (that’s you). The GIF can be seen below, enjoy!
Alexander, Leigh. “Why We Love Animated GIFs.” Thought Catalog. N.p., n.d. Web.
8 Feb. 2015. <http://thoughtcatalog.com/leigh-alexander/2011/05/
Shifman, Limor. Memes in Digital Culture. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.