Hey girl, your staff isn't funny.
The Office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent out a press release responding to the popularity of a Tumblr spinoff of the "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling comedy meme, "Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan," and the comedic results are nothing short of disastrous.
The Tumblr blog, started by NakedDC's Emily Zanotti, features images of Congressman Paul Ryan, often dreamily staring into the camera, with captions such as "Hey Girl, I voted 'Nay' on ARRA because you're all the stimulus I'll ever need." The meme has gone viral on social media platforms and earned writeups from several major news outlets.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, apparently appalled that the meme is flattering to Ryan, fired back with an email from her Press Office to several journalists:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has developed quite a GOP following on Tumblr, but here’s a look at what he’s really telling the American people…
The email then features a series of "Hey ___" entries with the same images from Zanotti's Tumblr, presumably to satirize Ryan's policy stances. Unfortunately, they're not done with the traditional meme font of outlined Impact, the text bleeds into the background, and--oh, yeah--they're painfully unfunny. For instance:
Other captions include thigh-slappers such as "Hey girl, want a more prosperous future? Better hope it trickles down!" and the vaguely creepy "Hey schoolgirl, College can be affordable - as long as you borrow money from your parents."
The strength of "Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan" isn't that it's by conservatives. The joke, like its Gosling-centric predecessor, is a riff on stereotypical relationship fantasies for women; the spin with Ryan is a healthy influx of goofy puns about economics and the legislative process. Pelosi's repartee puts party before funny and comes off as joyless scolding.
Much like Jim Messina's blustery response to conservatives mocking "The Life of Julia" on Twitter, this marks a sea change in online culture; those on the right are increasingly the mischief makers and those on the left are increasingly the ones telling everyone else to stop having fun.
Zanotti sent a statement to Breitbart News reveling in Pelosi's whiffed attack on Paul Ryan and her blog:
I'm excited at the popularity of Hey Girl Its Paul Ryan. While we didn't put it together specifically to be pro-conservative--just comedic--we found that if we could make something funny, we could transcend the audience we traditionally communicate to. Suddenly, Paul Ryan was everywhere--on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr--and I had liberal friends emailing the pictures back to me with "You've GOT to see this!" in the subject line. We'd taken Paul Ryan's wonky appeal and given it a national platform.
Liberals have done this for ages. They've taunted and mocked and cut down our leaders and our ideas with biting humor. That's one of the primary reasons that I started NakedDC, which pulls no punches - because I saw how effective sarcasm and humor could be at totally taking the wind out of someone's agenda.
Conservatives are on the outside now. We're attacking the Establishment. And that's where great comedy is born - on the outside. I've noticed conservatives stepping up, hijacking Twitter hashtags, embracing their culture (and pretty universal humor), and really utilizing this skill that puts us on offense rather than defense. When Nancy Pelosi sent back the entirely unfunny responses, we knew we'd won this round because Nancy was doing what Republicans used to do - respond with seriousness, be outraged that we were treating the very serious game of politics with less than the reverence it deserved. She looked stodgy and old and tired.
I am confident we can do this again and again before November. And I can't wait to do it.
Headline image credit: The Walker Report