Let’s Revisit JibJab
Welcome to part 12 of our Internet Nostalgia series, which looks back at phenomena that captured the internet’s imagination and attention for a fleeting moment and then vanished as everyone moved on to something else. This series looks back at those olden times and what they told us about the internet and ourselves. If you have a suggested topic, email me at email@example.com. Last week, we looked at the Double Rainbow guy. This week: JibJab.
Date: 2000–21, but really 2004.
The story: The joke about silly, hackneyed, very dopey “funny” internet videos sent around today is that they’re the sort of thing your grandmother or ancient uncle might send you. But in 2004, we were all our grandmother and ancient uncle in internet time. All sorts of things that weren’t funny in the real world seemed funny simply because they were created by the internet in 2004, from Peanut Butter Jelly Time to the Quizno’s cats to, yes, JibJab.
JibJab was a “digital entertainment” company that had made a few videos around the turn of the century that featured cartoons of celebrities doing “funny” things in goofy music videos. I remember seeing a couple of them, shrugging and thinking, “Okay, that’s something I saw—wait, did I leave the iron on?” But the 2004 presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry, a contentious race that mostly exhausted anyone who paid any attention to it (because of course we had no idea how bad presidential races would get), was so ugly, the minds at JibJab decided to do a video that was both “irreverent” and heartwarming. They tried to make us all feel better about something that made us feel bad. It was Upworthy content before such content existed. It was “This Land Is Your Land,” and it was huge.
That isn’t very funny, and it wasn’t very funny in 2004. But it was just pleasant enough during an unpleasant time that something about it clicked. Suddenly, JibJab was everywhere. You could even put…