Nancy Pelosi’s Rickroll Makes Congress Cats Go Viral

Nancy Pelosi has Rickrolled innocent YouTube viewers via a video featuring cats in Congress. Here it is:

Time Magazine explains the concept behind the Rickroll:

“In Honor of the www.YouTube.com/HouseHub Launch, Speaker Pelosi presents…Capitol Cat Cam”! What follows is a series of video clips of two cats mewing around an office in the Capitol. They sniff the flower arrangement. They look out the window at the Washington Monument. They toy with Pelosi’s ceremonial gavel. Then, after about thirty seconds, things start to get weird.

Congratulations — if you watched this far, you’ve just been Rickrolled by the most powerful woman in Congress. The Rickroll, an internet meme that started a few years ago, is basically a prank in which unsuspecting viewers are tricked into listening to Rick Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”. The classic Rickroll is when someone is tricked into clicking on link that takes them to a video of the song. Some examples are here, here, and here. An Obama-themed Barack Roll got more than 5 million hits on YouTube. And some kid even Rickrolled his English class and posted it online.

Which raises the question: What is Nancy Pelosi doing pranking America? In a nutshell, her handlers know a Rickroll video has a far better chance of going viral (and being written about here, for instance) than a generic “Welcome to Congress on YouTube” video like this one. In that respect, it reflects relatively sophisticated understanding of how the modern Internet works for an elected public official. The Rickroll “video was aimed at attracting more attention to the YouTube channel for Congress,” admits Pelosi’s press secretary Drew Hammill. (The new YouTube channels launched Jan. 12 pull together all the various YouTube sites maintained by members of the House and Senate.) And the cats? A play on the White House’s BarneyCam, of course.

Something must be working. Nancy Pelosi already has 2,841 subscribers on her HouseHub channel. Now, all she has to do is cleverly embed cat and Rick Astley shots when the legislative going gets slow.