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Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan


Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan

If you don’t understand the phrase above, here are some things you need to know:

1) What is a meme? A meme is an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. The word is a shortened form of mimeme, meaning “to imitate”.

2) Who is Ryan Gosling? Ryan Gosling is a Canadian actor and heartthrob (to some) known for being the subject of several photos with a caption that starts “Hey girl”. Think valentine. His first “Hey girl” post was in December of 2008.

3) Three friends in Chicago saw similarities between Paul Ryan’s stories of “catfish noodling” and the current “Hey girl” memes with Gosling. They made a few images with Rep. Ryan as the subject, and instantly turned a policy wonk into an internet sex symbol.

The L.A. Times reported on August 15 that Emily Zanotti, an account services director, is the spokeswoman for the group. “There is no political motivation to the posts,” says Zanotti. “We judged our success on whether our liberal and our conservative friends found it funny.”

Their web site posts three to five photographs a day of the congressman looking “cute” while they attach captions that cleverly convert fiscal policy jargon into (sort of) terms of endearment. Zanotti’s favorite to date — as submitted by members of the Fox Business Channel — has Ryan saying “Stop, girl! Those Laffer curves are driving me wild.”

In a recent radio interview with Rep. Ryan, Roma of the Don Wade and Roma show on WLS 890- AM detoured from serious policy issues to ask him about the “Hey girl” meme, and suggested that his wife is going to have to get used to his new status as a heartthrob.

But not all of the memes are friendly. Political opponents are coming up with their own, used to protest real or imagined disagreements with Ryan policy. The August 14 Rachel Maddow Show opened with a segment describing memes, Gosling, Rep. Ryan and examples of memes being used as protests. One of these was, “Hey girl, you’ll love my choices for your body. XOXO Paul Ryan.”

The same day in Colorado a banner with the phrase “Hey girl, choose me, lose choice – P. Ryan” was flown behind a plane over a site where he was appearing. The Huffington Post said, ”Paul Ryan came to Colorado and all he got was another internet meme.” A tweeter is even going by @PaulRyanGosling.

Sound silly? Maybe. “Hey girl” posts have served as a fun distraction for conservatives who appreciate a young, attractive candidate on the GOP ticket. They are also sure to be used by political opponents to weaken the candidate if possible.

Anyone for “Hey girl, it’s Pat McCrory?” No? Just checking.

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