As hard as it is to believe, there was a timeline that existed before a horse stormed the doors of the Royal York Hotel and won Twitter’s heart. In this land before Marty, it was another meme that ruled day. And it was a glorious meme. A gif, perfectly constituted, of the mayor faking to his right and then faking to his left before dropping back for the pass. Nobody warned Ford’s legs of the undue stress that would soon set up on them. The poor legs never had a shot, crumbling under the pressure causing Toronto’s mayor, my mayor, to come a-tumbling down.
I have no technical knowledge on how gifs are made. But I do know the minute long video of Ford and friends getting their jock on outside of City Hall is a gif makers dream. The second you saw this clip you knew it was going viral. How could it not? It’s a continuous loop of Toronto’s cartoon of a Mayor slipping and falling while playing his favorite sport. Alas viral is a fickle mistress and the Ford falling gif is another era’s news. We tweeted it, re-tweeted it, and wrote our personal 140-character Jay Leno monologues. We laughed at the Mayor’s expense and hey did you see this other gif of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez running into his own teammates’ butt? It’s even funnier than the one of Ford falling because Sanchez is a professional who gets paid millions of dollars to play football!!!
Two football related memes go viral in a couple days (three if you count Marty as an offshoot of the Grey Cup) and it’s official, life now moves a meme a minute.
And we love it. For those of us that spend large parts of our days online, these meme’s are perfect storms of distraction; digital Sirens calling us away from our work and families, because we have to contribute. Even if it’s just one tweet, we have to contribute. We want to throw in our two cents, our spin, our take, our joke. The meme doesn’t stand on its own two feet; it’s a conduit for our personalities. More than anything, a meme is gateway to an audience. And for a lot of people, myself included, that’s all we really want out of the Internet.
Will tales of Marty’s travels survive the weekend? I guess it’s possible, though I’d bet the under. Do you even remember that other video of Mayor Ford getting out of a double parked SUV and sprinting into a courthouse that surfaced on Monday? I mean big-ups to the Mayor for squeezing in so much cardio this week, but you would think this video would have gotten more attention. It’s not even at 20,000 hits. Despite being ripe for parody, Ford running was overshadowed by the gif of Ford falling (1.3 million views on imgur at time of publication -ed), which broke the next day– a gif that ripped through its own life cycle and was subsequently overshadowed by the stuffy snobs at the Royal York who refused to let Marty trot their lobby, before relenting to public pressure and media exposure.
My timeline’s love for Marty was so all encompassing at one point, it completely overshadowed the video that surfaced showing Justin Trudeau treating Albertans like they were Mitt Romney’s 47 percent. And yet, come Thursday Night NFL Football my timeline abandoned Marty in favour of Sanchez giving new meaning to the phrase head butt.
We’re often warned to be careful about what we put online. Once something is on the Internet, it lives there forever. Technically this is true. There are old stories I’ve written, which I won’t link to, I wish would just go away. But the Internet is a beast that won’t quit eating. It chewed up those stories long ago, relegating them to a dark corner in the pit of its stomach, just like it chewed up the latest #fordfails and the rest of this week’s memes. You can still find them if you search, but why would you? The next meme is about to break. On to the next one. On to the next one.
Vakis Boutsalis is a freelance writer in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @VakisB.