I am loath to even describe the genesis of this little rant, but it seems hard not to. So, for hopefully the last time at The Fix, we will talk about and link to a government official's press release which is composed of animated GIFs.

This time, it is Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who uses the movie "Titanic" as a peg to talk about changes to Medicare spending. (The post uses the more palatable phrase "entitlement reform," naturally.) See, the changes are the "single biggest entitlement reform since 1997" -- the year "Titanic" came out. And therefore here are 10 Leonardo DiCaprio GIFs.

(This is not one of the GIFs Boehner used.)

There is a term for articles posted on the internet which are simply a list of things. They are called listicles. Historically, they were considered sort of garbage Internet content, to the extent that there is now a rich ecosystem in ironic listicle-making. (To wit.) Then BuzzFeed came along, and developed a whole new audience on listicles heavy with GIF animations. That "BuzzFeeed-style content" quickly became shorthand for "what works on the web," and it spread across media organizations (yes, we are guilty of this, too!) and then into organizations that are hoping their own content will "go viral," as the hopelessly meaningless expression has it.

"Kids do not care about Medicare reform," the idea goes, "so add Leonardo GIFs." And then media organizations, marveling at how hip-by-their-standards the Speaker's office suddenly is, pick it up and spread it around.

No more. I mean, I don't run The Fix, and who knows what the future holds; if Hillary Clinton's imminent announcement takes the form of "How I Decided to Run for President as Illustrated by the Gang from 'Saved By the Bell'," we're probably going to need to write about that. But for other stuff like Boehner's press release or this one or any of the others that exist or are currently percolating in some young go-getter's brain: No.


Light-hearted content is fine. GIFs are fine -- even useful in certain contexts. Trying to get as many people to look at your press release or whatever is also fine, if that's the world you inhabit. But the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill cobbling together something that's meant to appeal to --

Wait. To whom? What's the target audience here? Republicans have been explicitly trying to expand their outreach to younger voters, and "Titanic" GIFs are probably not super resonant with the elderly. The elderly are also probably a bit more skittish about "entitlement reforms." But are younger voters really going to seize upon this thing and read through it and be like, "Wow, I learned a lot about how Washington works."

Here is a secret: To nearly everyone, policy-making is boring. Building political energy off of policy-making is difficult, usually unrewarding work. I will not fault anyone for trying to make dry, dull news interesting; it is often my job. But trying to lol your way into political success is like trying to BuzzFeed your way into media success. Or, to put it in a way non-dorks will appreciate, it is like trying to make it in the NBA by replicating how Michael Jordan wore his socks. And if you're trying to get me to be interested in your socks, I am going to pass.

Rant over.