Okay, It’s Time to Retire the Relieved Denzel Washington GIF

Every time a celebrity trends on Twitter, the Oscar winner appears to reassure us

Denzel Washington GIF
Denzel Washington in Fallen (Warner Bros.)

    Have you ever seen Fallen? It’s a good movie. Denzel Washington. John Goodman. Even Elias Koteas makes a memorable appearance. It’s a fun, supernatural thriller out of 1998 that often makes the rounds every Fall season. Odds are, though, you haven’t seen it.

    However, you’ve probably seen the GIF that’s taken from the film: Denzel, sitting there contemplative, only to clutch his chest as he give us that Oscar-winning smile of his. Oh, you’ve probably seen it a lot these days, if only because it’s become Twitter’s de rigueur GIF for the feeling of relief. Or more specifically, when celebrities are trending.

    You know how it goes: You log on. You see a random celebrity trending on the side. You immediately think, Oh god, what happened? And lo and behold, it’s just something else — a charity event, a dumb TikTok video, whatever. Most of the time, you don’t even find out why they’re trending; you just see Denzel, sitting there, smiling with relief…

    denzel relieved Okay, Its Time to Retire the Relieved Denzel Washington GIF


    Granted, this isn’t a new practice. Not at all. In fact, according to KnowYourMeme, the use of the GIF goes all the way back to 2014. Since then, though, the Denzel GIF has become so ubiquitous with trending celebrities that it’s nearly impossible to click on a name without seeing Denzel at the top doing his thing. Hell, it happened today with David Letterman…

    Screen Shot 2020 04 02 at 12.42.20 PM Okay, Its Time to Retire the Relieved Denzel Washington GIF

    Rest assured, every time a celebrity trends, and it’s not because they’ve croaked, you’re getting Denzel. On one hand, it’s kind of nice to have one of America’s finest living actors serve as a pseudo angel of sorts, but on the other, it’s a tad grating, especially in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, when everyone’s trending at every second of the day.

    Why grating? Well, that’s a bit much. Perhaps the better word is “unimaginative,” or even “lazy,” particularly when most of the people sharing it are well aware of how redundant it is (see above). At this point, it’s almost like people are treating the Denzel GIF as some flag to be raised, an insignia for all the celebrities out there. A Paul Revere even.


    Fortunately, the people have spoken…

    Screen Shot 2020 04 02 at 12.50.37 PM Okay, Its Time to Retire the Relieved Denzel Washington GIF

    They’re not alone. Scroll through the comments of any sad bastard using the GIF and you’re bound to see similar outrage — and for good reasons. These are trying times, we’re all on edge, and we just don’t need any more repetition in our lives. And really, we have so many options out there. Hell, here’s what comes up when you simply type in “relief.”

    Screen Shot 2020 04 02 at 2.15.39 PM Okay, Its Time to Retire the Relieved Denzel Washington GIF

    Wouldn’t you know: Denzel isn’t even in the top three rows. It’s almost as if Twitter itself is insisting you use a different GIF. (Having said that, it’s also couching that wonderful Elaine Benes GIF, which is admittedly far more deserving and underused than the others they’re offering, but whatever.) Not to say we should heed the advice of Twitter, but…

    So, where do we go from here? We don’t. We just have to wait, see what happens. Eventually, like all things in life, it’ll just fall wayside, but until then, we can only click and shake our heads. Of course, we could also be proactive, toss up a GIF ourselves, and hope it catches on. But eventually, we’ll be right back to where we are…

    denzel relieved Okay, Its Time to Retire the Relieved Denzel Washington GIF


    TL;DR? Go watch Fallen.

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