Dedicated readers already know that I like animated GIFs. I love finding funny little moments in online videos and giffing them up. At a certain point, though, I end up with a backlog of neat animations for which I’ve never found a good purpose. Not yet, anyway. Rather than let them languish on my hard drive, I’ll share a few with you. Maybe Music Theory Augmented or When In Musicology can think of what to do with them.
Boxing offers many metaphors for life: “saved by the bell,” “down for the count,” “throw in the towel,” “come up to scratch” (from the old bareknuckle days, when answering the start of a round meant walking up to a scratch-mark on the grounds), and my favorite: “didn’t lay a glove on him.” Meaning, well, this:
And even better, this: Muhammad Ali slipping something like 20 punches and then wiggling his butt at the hapless Michael Dokes for good measure:
Let’s see, academic situations to which these clips could apply … a successful dissertation defense? Overwhelming superiority demonstrated in the Q&A of your conference paper? The effectiveness of evaluation forms as a medium of revenge for disgruntled students?
But if you’re looking for a pugilistic visual metaphor where the punches actually land, you could do worse than this one, from the brawl between Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama, back in the early days of MMA, before they discovered defense.
I’m sure we’ve all seen Q&A sessions that looked like that.
“But what about brawls in space? With robots and monsters?” Got you covered.
“But what if I wish to convey the idea that, while I have not yet committed an act of violence, it’s absolutely the next item on my agenda?”
Patrick Dunn, one of the few working academics writing openly about magic and the occult, wrote that a clip of a raccoon trying to eat cotton candy is “the perfect metaphor for writing occult books.” Or writing anything at all, I might add.
Sometimes I just like to make GIFS of moments in films that give me a little shudder of strangeness, like this clip from Joseph Cornell’s surrealist cut-up, Rose Hobart:
Or this odd scene with Grace Zabriskie in David Lynch’s Inland Empire:
This seems like a reaction GIF waiting to happen. There are just so many situations a professional academic encounters in the course of a work day that call for brutal fucking murder.
Cartoons are especially good for GIFs. They loop easily, and good animation offers tiny fugitive moments in which the full anatomy of a gesture is laid bare. Like,
fighting back tears:
or getting away with imposture:
This is from the Looney Tunes short, Long-Haired Hare, in which Bugs defeats his foe through the novel expedient of pretending to be Leopold Stokowski. The little gesture enshrined in this GIF combines Bugs’ maestro impersonation with that little giveaway hitch of his right eyebrow. It’s like, Am I getting away with this? Yes? Then how about …