Study Buddy (Explorer): Iconic Blinking Guy from viral GIF uses face and fame to ask for donations for MS charity

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  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Drew Scanlon’s expression (upper left), during a moment in a Giant Bomb live stream, became known across the internet as a way to show disbelief or confusion. Photo: Giant Bomb via AP

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] If you have been on social media, or messaged GIF-loving friends, you know Drew Scanlon’s face. His GIF, known as “Blinking Guy” or “Blinking White Guy”, is estimated to have been used more than 1.7 billion times across the internet to express disbelief or confusion. It even has its own Twitter page.

[2] Scanlon has not been wasting his internet fame. He is using it for good – seeking donations for the US-based National Multiple Sclerosis Society to aid with research and advocacy for the disease. Last month, he appealed to his Twitter followers to pitch in. “If this GIF has ever brought you joy in the past, I humbly ask you to consider making a donation to the National MS Society,” he wrote on Twitter.

[3] Many chipped in, and they helped Scanlon raise more than US$75,000 (HK$583,540). This broke his record from 2019, when he first used the meme to raise nearly US$34,000. Overall, he has raised more than US$154,000 for the organisation since 2016.

[4] Scanlon, 35, works as a producer at the California-based video game developer Digital Eclipse. He said two of his friends, as well as members of their families, have multiple sclerosis, also known as MS. MS affects adults, although it is rare in children under 10 years old. Recently there has been progress in medical research. “If a fraction of those who have seen my goofy face donated to MS research, I have a feeling we could kick this thing in no time,” Scanlon wrote on his fundraising appeal.

[5] That “goofy face” was a result of a moment in 2013. He and his colleagues at the gaming site Giant Bomb were live-streaming themselves playing video games. One of his colleagues made an “off-colour” joke, and Scanlon reacted with what has now become his famous expression. A user on that site turned it into a GIF, he said, but it gained so much notoriety four years later that even celebrities started using it.

[6] “It’s kind of fun to see that, but it’s also a little bit overwhelming,” he said. “At a certain point, you realise that it’s completely out of your control and that you don’t have any say in how it is used and by whom. And, you know, it’s your face – that’s pretty closely tied to your identity.”
Source: Associated Press, September 28


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. Which of the following emojis conveys the same emotions as Drew Scanlon’s “Blinking White Guy”?

Which of these emojis best matches Scanlon’s expression?

2. What did Scanlon ask his Twitter followers to do according to paragraph 2?

3. Find a word or phrase in paragraph 3 that means “gave some money”.

4. How much money has Scanlon raised in total according to paragraph 3?

5. Read paragraphs 3 and 4 to decide whether the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text. (4 marks)
(i) Scanlon has previously used his meme for charity purposes.
(ii) Scanlon was hoping to raise more than US$100,000 with his meme.
(iii) Multiple sclerosis does not affect children under 10 years old.
(iv) There is ongoing medical research on multiple sclerosis.

6. What does the phrase “goofy face” suggest about what Scanlon thinks of his appearance in the meme?

7. How did the “goofy face” come about according to paragraph 5?

8. Why does Scanlon say his GIF is completely out of his control?

9. Which of the following best summarises this article?
A. Drew Scanlon designed a meme of a blinking white guy to raise funds for Twitter.
B. Drew Scanlon is using a popular meme of a random blinking white man to ask people to donate money to MS research.
C. Many popular MS charities are using a meme of Drew Scanlon blinking to increase donations.
D. Drew Scanlon is using a meme of himself to encourage people to donate to an MS charity.

Drew Scanlon has used his GIF fame to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research. Photo: Giant Bomb via AP


1. B
2. make a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
3. chipped in
4. US$154,000
5. (i) T; (ii) NG; (iii) F; (iv) T
6. He thinks he looks silly.
7. It was a reaction Scanlon had when one of his colleague made an “off-colour” joke while live-streaming themselves playing video games.
8. He has no say over how it is used and by whom.
9. D

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