It never fails. When society as a whole commits an outrage (be it voting the right wing, deciding they don’t like the European Union anymore, that they should devote their time to Pokémon hunting or to the consumption of some toxic TV programme), there will always be someone who, from quite a big-headed, albeit not unrighteous, position will use the GIF we’re analysing today to symbolise what his/her mistaken fellow folks, commonly identified as ‘the masses,’ make him/her feel.
Human beings as lemmings, joylessly but decisively jumping towards the abyss, in a manifestation of unique and fatal thought: what an eloquent, disturbing and versatile image, right?
What happens is, though, that when we try to open the capsule’s frame and track down the GIF’s origin, this doesn’t belong to the imaginary of a video artist and activist, or to a fantastic film wiz kid with a penchant for social commentary. Its audiovisual root is, in fact, an advert, and it’s located in a Wendy’s Burger spot from around a decade ago. Whoever created the GIF, simply isolated the first seconds of the ad, and increased the speed of the poor abyss-jumpers (something that, as Homer Simpson taught Mel Gibson, always magnifies the comic effect). Thus, we’re left without knowing that among the lemming mass there emerged an individual, clad in a ginger and pigtailed wig, who, just before joining the abyss, asked himself why on earth he couldn’t satisfy his desire of eating a huge and multi-layered burger. The hero ended up convincing and recruiting a small group of enthusiasts that joined him in his race on the opposite direction, presumably towards the nearest Wendy’s.