It is 2018 and GIFs have seeped into the gun control debate. Following National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch’s appearance at the CNN Town Hall on Wednesday night, the NRA’s official Twitter account posted about Loesch’s performance.
“.@DLoesech thank you for being the voice of over 5 million #NRA members,” the tweet read. Appended to the thank you note was a GIF of Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s character from the popular sitcom Parks and Recreation.
The creator of Parks and Recreation, Michael Schur, didn’t take kindly to the NRA’s appropriation of Poehler’s character. From his Twitter account @KenTremendous, Schur scolded the NRA for their “pro-slaughter” agenda and asked them to take down the tweet. At time of writing, the tweet was still up.
Other Parks and Recreation cast members joined the public shaming, directing the NRA to stop co-opting their show, and claiming that the NRA ideology is in direct opposition to the values exemplified on the TV series.
A large percentage of the Twittersphere seemed utterly delighted by the multiple front attack on the NRA. Turns out the gun lobby is really good at uniting people in opposition.
What started as a knee-jerk reaction to social media malfeasance transformed into a real expression of activism. Later on Thursday, Shur tweeted that he donated to March For Our Lives, the demonstration planned by Parkland shooting survivors in Washington, D.C., in Leslie Knope’s name.
The Parks and Recreation GIF kerfuffle leading to tangible action is the kind of strange event that is only possible in the Twitter age. Add another truism to the 21st century political playbook: nothing mobilizes internet users like a poorly placed GIF.