Paul Ryan Shirtless and Ryan Gosling Hey Girl Meme Could Hurt the GOP

The new “Paul Ryan Gosling” Tumblr that everyone is talking about, since presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his vice presidential nominee, poses both risk and opportunity for the likely 2012 GOP presidential ticket.

“Paul Ryan Gosling” is inspired in the popular Tumblr “F*ck Yeah Ryan Gosling,” which posts pictures of the popular and good looking Canadian actor Ryan Gosling (The NotebookCrazy, Stupid, Love) with captions that start with the phrase “Hey Girl…” and follow with romantic and sensible messages (“…Paris is not the same without you,”) based on the actor’s perceived gallantry.

But the similarities end there. Though the “Paul Ryan Gosling” Tumblr shows pictures of the young and good looking newly minted presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee, accompanied by captions that start with the meme “Hey Girl…,” the messages attached to it portray a chauvinistic politician from the extreme right who supposedly wants to end Medicare and student loans -- while romancing girls who are “too pretty to have to go to college anyway.”

To the extent that online memes and Saturday Night Live impersonations contribute to define the image political figures once they are presented on the national stage, the “Paul Ryan Gosling” meme could be damaging to the Romney/Ryan ticket; especially, since one of the narratives Obama and the Democrats are going to hammer away is the GOP’s supposed “War on Women.” In this sense, the “Paul Ryan Gosling” Tumblr is pure evil genius.

However, memes are unpredictable. Since they are mostly user generated, as opposed to broadcast by television or other form of traditional media, its message is much harder to control (that’s why social media sometimes can be such a headache for Public Relations professionals). In a potential twist, “Paul Ryan Gosling” could actually help the Republican ticket by highlighting Ryan’s youth and good looks (via association with a popular actor of the same name). Paul Ryan’s meme could also help the GOP, by potentially connecting the party's message with younger voters who are also avid users of social media.

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