When the National Broadcasting Company pays $1.2 billion for the rights to broadcast the 2016 Olympic Games, it for damned sure doesn’t want any internet hooligans posting unauthorized GIFs or other video files of the events to social media. Heaven forfend. To prevent such a dreadful thing from happening, the word came down from on high in the form of an official statement by the International Olympic Committee: “The use of Olympic Material transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited.” Seeing this, Twitter immediately gave up, curled into a ball, and went stony silent during last week’s opening ceremony, right? Not even close. The site’s users found plenty of ways to GIF the holy hell out of the Olympics anyway, all while thumbing their noses at any number of copyrights. Mashable writer Jenni Ryall assembles some of the best examples of this in an article called “Twitter Gets Creative To Avoid Olympic GIF Ban.”
While some especially brazen scofflaws did post “a sneaky snippet” of the ceremony every now and then, Ryall’s article is really more about how people used other pop culture images to represent the broadcast without actually showing it. When Brazilian fashion model Gisele Bündchen showed up, for instance, her walk reminded BenchWarmers of a certain animated bartender.
For many Twitter users, the ceremony evoked fond memories of the 1982 video game Q*bert.
And when it came time for America to strut its stuff, there was no more appropriate a spokesman than Stephen Colbert.
Oprah Winfrey, Cookie Monster, the Peanuts kids, and Michael Scott all appeared in GIF form during the opening ceremony. So the IOC ultimately failed in its mission to break the spirit of social media with its totalitarian rules. NBC can keep its lousy “official” coverage, too. Twitter will make do with Captain Planet And The Planeteers, thanks.