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This article was published on November 25, 2019

The curious case of the vanishing Baby Yoda GIFs

The curious case of the vanishing Baby Yoda GIFs
Rachel Kaser
Story by

Rachel Kaser

Internet Culture Writer

Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback riding. Check her Twitter for curmudgeonly criticisms.

A strange thing happened over the weekend — GIFs of a certain character from Disney’s The Mandalorian disappeared from Giphy, and so far we don’t know exactly what happened. It’s such an oddly specific thing that many suspected copyright shenanigans, but even that is apparently not the case.

While only three episodes have been released at the time of this writing, The Mandalorian is so far a decent show — but probably not for the reasons anyone suspected it would be. Sure, it’s got the space western aspects promised by the trailer, and it also expands the lore by exploring the period immediately after the fall of the Empire. And while the Mando himself is a great character, a deeply conflicted individual veiled in stoic indifference, he’s not the aspect of the show that’s captured everyone’s hearts. That would be an as-yet-unnamed character known only as Baby Yoda (because it’s a baby of the same species as Yoda).

As you might expect, considering it’s an unutterably cute baby with big eyes that communicates in curious snuffles, Baby Yoda is a sensation. Seriously, it’s basically what Disney was hoping the Porgs would be — an adorable, infinitely marketable character whose toys are going to sell with a ferocity usually reserved for cocaine.

But if you were planning to demonstrate its appeal to a non-believer, then over the weekend you would have had to find a way other than GIFs. Because, for some reason, all of the Baby Yoda GIFs on Giphy mysteriously vanished.

This appeared to happen after Vulture published an article that was just a collection of shots the baby was in — The Mandalorian as told through the eyes of one of Baby Yoda’s rabid new fans. Vulture at least appears to believe Disney’s saltiness was the reason for this takedown, saying “Disney decided that GIFs of this beautiful being should be removed from the internet!”

But according to Giphy, that wasn’t exactly the case… or at least, Disney didn’t have to outright command the removal of the GIFs. Giphy told the BBC:

Last week, there was some confusion around certain content uploaded to Giphy and we temporarily removed these Gifs while we reviewed the situation. We apologize to both Disney and Vulture for any inconvenience, and we are happy to report that the Gifs are once again live on Giphy.

What exactly does that mean? Why did Giphy remove the GIFs in the first place? Um, you tell me and we’ll both know. But, as stated, the GIFs are back.

It does beg the question of whether Disney was involved at all, or whether Giphy was preemptively responding to the notoriously protective company. Disney’s been known to invoke its rights against YouTubers who use footage of its movies, so why would GIFs be any different? And the company has been holding back on Baby Yoda merchandise, supposedly because it’s trying to keep potential spoilers from leaking out — so its seems it has a vested interest in making sure people don’t get too much of the little green sweetheart.

We’ve reached out to Giphy for more information and will update should we receive any.

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