Drew Scanlon’s face is synonymous with the never ending sense of bewildering disbelief that rules the internet, and now it’s award winning.
The Shorty Awards named Scanlon’s face as the Best GIF of 2017 as “Blinking White Man” last night during the annual award ceremony that celebrates internet and influencer culture. Scanlon, a former Giant Bomb personality, gained notoriety after a look of incredulity on his face became a go-to GIF to summarize reaction to the news story of the day. No matter what the astonishing story of the day was last year, from politics to run-of-the-mill weird news, Scanlon’s face was sure to make an appearance in the comments section of articles or Twitter replies. Even if you don’t know Scanlon’s GIF by name, you’ve absolutely seen it.
The moment was captured in 2013 Giant Bomb stream, four years before it would ever transcend the gaming realm and become one the most recognizable reactions on the internet. Scanlon was watching colleague Jeff Gerstmann play a game and couldn’t quite hide his surprise at Gerstmann’s referral to, “spending time farming with my hoe.”
Scanlon later told Thrillist that when the team is streaming they’re “very aware of the audience,” and that can potentially lead to some of their expressions being played out. The momentary incredulous look that spreads across his face is just comical and subdued enough to work in just about any situation — but especially Twitter.
The first time that Scanlon’s face really became a global sensation was in February 2017, after a student tweeted about taking a biology class. The tweets has been retweeted more than 60,000 times at the time of this writing. It’s largely credited as the reason “white blinking guy,” as the GIF is largely referred to on popular GIF sites like Giphy, became popular in the first place.
me: ill take a biology class, im smart enough for this just watch me— INIRO (@eskbl) February 5, 2017
The GIF only grew from there. Unofficial accounts were created in its honor, magazines like Cosmopolitan named it one of the most relatable meme and fans on the Giant Bomb forums tracked Scanlon’s rise into notoriety as that white, blinking guy on the internet. The perturbed look on Scanlon’s face became an instantaneous and recognizable emotion for the ludicrous year that 2017 became.
Perhaps the most interesting and wholesome part of Scanlon’s fame as a meme is that no one has tried to co-opt it for hateful reasons. Scanlon told Thrillist he’s more than aware of how the internet can take something, embrace it, and turn something innocuous into a sign of hate. His only hope is that his face — and his incredulous blinking — doesn’t become something people learn to resent.
“It’s out of my hands,” he said. “Use it wisely.”