The Origin of the Internet's Most Famous Dumpster Fire

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If you’ve spent any time on social media during this campaign season, you’ve seen the dumpster fire. It’s a big, blue dumpster, up against a gray wall. It burns with the rage of 225 million eligible voters. And it became the internet’s favorite visual metaphor to describe an election that’s devolved into the country’s hottest mess. Like this:

The GIF has been viewed more than 10 million times, according to Giphy, which powers GIF tools inside both Twitter and Facebook Messenger. In fact, if you open the GIF function on either of those apps and type in “dumpster,” this is the first dumpster you see. “It isn’t a debate until someone posts the dumpster fire,” a Wall Street Journal reporter once tweeted. Columbia Journalism Review, citing the GIF, even dug into the history of the phrase “dumpster fire” in politics. (The earliest reference it could find: a 2008 post on a blog called “Scholars and Rogues”.)

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But nobody has yet answered this pressing question: What is that actual dumpster that’s on fire? So I asked Giphy if it could track back the source, and the company delivered.

The world’s most famous dumpster fire came from this YouTube video, which identifies the fire as being located behind the official home of The Oscars: the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. “Engine 27 makes quick work of a large dumpster fire,” the video caption says.