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Screen grab from video of Marco Rubio’s infamous gulp of water
Screen grab from video of Marco Rubio’s infamous gulp of water

Gulp! How Marco Rubio’s sip of water became an Internet sensation Add to ...

There’s no question that Republican Senator Marco Rubio will be remembered for his 16-minute rebuttal to Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address since his re-election.

Problem is, people are less likely to remember what he said than the way he swallowed. If you haven’t already seen it, here is the video of Rubio’s unexpected water break.

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After expressing his dissatisfaction with the evening’s address – “Nothing has frustrated me more than the false choices the President has laid out tonight” – the Florida senator found himself parched. What followed has since become a meme even more uncomfortable than Natalie Portman’s laugh.

Americans might want answers and initiatives on health-care reform, minimum wage and clean energy, but by late into last night’s speeches it seemed they were most of all thirsty for some comic relief. Rubio’s awkward gulp has since been immortalized as a .gif (a short repeated film clip) and as numerous Twitter parody accounts, mostly in the guise of his water bottle tweeting about the experience.

Maybe it was Rubio’s swigging noises – no post-production, Oscar-nominated sound-editing team could have done better. Or perhaps it was that he engaged all his man fingers to bring the mini bottle to his mouth. The fact that he kept his gaze locked on the camera as he sipped helped crank up the creepiness.

As many have pointed out, Poland Springs (the brand of Rubio’s water) would be wise to capitalize on this wave of free publicity. Fast Company aggregated related tweets – the best one joking that the speech was actually a bad advertisement.

But anyway, why wasn’t he drinking out of a glass (gotta love the implicit message against climate change).

With the recent launch of Vine, a new social media platform from Twitter that allows people to share quick clips of looped video, anyone can now turn the briefest moment into a never-ending story. Ten years ago, Rubio’s “drinking problem” (as Politico has called it) might not have passed without commentary, but it certainly could not escalated into the gulp heard round the world.

Today, any small move can become the next “Gulp-gate”. Which raises the question: How does someone in the public eye even manage to breathe without scrutiny? Let’s think – or better yet, drink – on that.

 

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