The White House—that illustrious, stately, venerable seat of the executive branch of the most powerful government in the world—has taken to tweeting the equivalent of giving someone a loogie or a swirlie or a wedgie. They have Rickroll’d* a constituent.
During a Twitter event, named #WHchat, in which the White House was fielding questions from the general public, one guy tweeted a little poke:
to which the White House flippantly replied:
@whitehouse wrote to @wiggsd: “Sorry to hear that. Fiscal policy is important, but can be dry sometimes. Here’s something more fun: tinyurl.com/y8ufsnp #WHChat”
That tinyurl.com link goes to a clip of Rick Astley’s music video of his hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
* Rickrolling is a passe internet fad. It’s a trite way of tricking someone into clicking a video link that purports to be something of interest to someone, but instead serves them up this Astley video. Rickrolling was all the rage back in 2007, until it quickly became highly annoying. The world was grateful when the fad went away. Now like flu, the White House is trying to bring it back?
I actually think the tweet was kinda of funny, because it is so incredibly juvenile. I mean, who other than 6-year-olds Rickroll anyone anymore? So it’s unexpected.
But this is an account that is supposed to represent all American citizens to the world. This is the dignity of the United States at hand. For some reason, this administration seems to think that the persons behind the official Twitter accounts of prestigious and official government departments and officials can take their pants off, pop open a beer and try their hand at amateur standup comedy on Twitter’s 24/7 open mic night. (Recall PJ Crowley, spokesman for the State Department, using his Twitter account to tweak foreign leaders with insults until he finally resigned?)
Do we really want a government that runs around sticking “Kick Me” signs on everyone’s back? Is this what we have devolved to? It’s a slippery slope toward putting a whoopie cushion on the guest of honor’s chair at a state dinner or using a joy buzzer when shaking hands with the Queen. Yes, it would be hilarious, because it would be so inappropriate. But we need a White House that we don’t have to worry is gonna get caught mooning tourists or playing ding-dong-ditch down embassy row.
Yeah, yeah, call me a humorless ol’ stick-in-the-mud, but given the supposed seriousness of the issue of the day—the debt ceiling, which what was being discussed in the #WHchat—and President Obama’s proclivity for lecturing Republicans about the need to be adult, this is a far cry from behaving properly.
I’m not exactly the only one thinking this. David Wiggs, the recipient of the Rickroll tweet—and a Republican I would assume, as he tweeted a happy birthday greeting to George Bush earlier in the month, to which he added the hashtag #wemissyou—took it all in good humor, but many of those that tweeted to him about it were not so laissez-faire:
That last tweet has a point…although they probably weren’t being serious. Would the White House have an obligation to pay royalties for using someone’s copyrighted material in the course of their business? (If Astley could collect royalties from all the Rickrolling, he would be one of the wealthiest men in the world.) Don’t forget, this is an official account. They say so in their Twitter bio:
It is so official that they felt it necessary to warn people that tweet interactions with them are subject to privacy laws and may be archived as official White House communication. Do we really want this White House Rickrolling to live on in infamy, for future generations to tut-tut at the immaturity of this White House?
The people in the White House need to grow up and conduct themselves in a manner befitting the privilege of working for the People in one of the most renown buildings in the world. The world is already concerned we can’t manage our checkbook. We don’t need the toddlers running around giggling wildly and pulling the People’s pigtails while the elected officials attempt to demonstrate maturity and responsibility.
Here’s my suggestion: Keep official government department and official accounts sacrosanct. Don’t screw around with them or tell “yo momma” jokes with them. Preserve what shreds of dignity we have left. This administration has fairly stripped us bare.
The persons behind these talent-show tweets should establish a separate, personal account, where they can tweet their prepubescent hilarity to their hearts’ delight.
If we don’t stand up against these Stooge-ish antics, the next thing you know, the White House will be dredging up footage of the angry Hitler scene in the movie Downfall, and replacing the real English subtitles with phony dialogue about the debt ceiling. Yeah, that will be a real fresh and unique gag. NOT, as they used to gratingly say back when it was still cool.
Stop the insanity. Don’t make us have to get a nanny to discipline the nanny state.