Because the Walker Art Center's International Cat Video Festival at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand Wednesday night was such an important event for cat-lovers everywhere, I have invited someone much more qualified than me to evaluate the pros and cons of the festival: my dog, Sarge:
Greetings, humans. Those of you who are aware of my work know that, besides food and walks, my passion in life is warning people about the many dangers cats pose to the rest of us, and explaining to thick-headed humans why the cuddly-looking creature on their couch is, in reality, a remorseless monster capable of the most horrific acts of violence imaginable.
Cats are, quite simply, cold-blooded serial killers. They roam our streets and neighborhoods in search of prey, then murder their victims for the pure, sinister fun of it. Remember: these are creatures who have bowls of kibble and liver paté available to them at all times, yet they choose to kill. Why? They certainly don’t need to; they do it because want to, because they enjoy it. Birds, mice, rabbits, gophers, chipmunks, squirrels, snakes—all are friendly critters, yet none are safe from the homicidal fancy of these feline psychopaths. The world must be warned.
So, when I heard that more than 10,000 humans were gathering at the state fair to watch a bunch of videos of cats doing all sorts of cute, loveable things, I was of course appalled. And when I arrived on the grounds, I could not believe what I was seeing: people everywhere dressed up as cats, their faces painted with colorful whiskers and their heads adorned with puny little cat ears. One has to wonder: Would these same people find it amusing if we all dressed up as Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, or Ted Bundy? I think not.
As I understand it, the 2013 International Cat Video Festival on display last night will soon be traveling around the world, which makes it that much more urgent to set the record straight about what is really happening here. You’ve seen these videos: Cat lovers (unwitting accomplices in the genocide of which I speak) send them to each other on the internet, and coo and giggle at the cat antics other people have magically caught on film. What these ignorant humans don’t know is that acting cute for the camera is part of a cat’s vast arsenal of trickery and deceit. Subterfuge and diversion are how cats get away with their many crimes, and humans fall for these deceptions every time.
Case in point: Last year’s Grand Prize Winner, Henri—a pretentious black-and-white bore who claims to be French and to suffer from the European condition: a life stifled by existential ennui. But Henri’s owner, Will Braden, was in attendance last night, and he blew the lid off the whole hoax. In reality, Henri isn’t French: His name is Henry, he lives in Seattle, and, according to Braden, is a fairly “happy cat” in general. Are we surprised? No, because that’s what cats do—they lie straight to your face, then tell you to go lick yourself if you can’t take a joke.
In keeping with this theme, many people arrived at the grandstand at 7 p.m.—the advertised starting time—only to learn that the videos themselves wouldn’t start until 9 p.m., a full two hours later. That’s cat humor for you. The insufferable run-up to the main event included people dressed up as cats singing about how great cats are, short films of cats sticking their butts in people’s faces, and a lot of other feline-aggrandizing nonsense I’d rather not dignify by mentioning.
Except for one thing: The “big event” before the main event was a meeting of alleged internet superstars Grumpy Cat, a forlorn little furball born with a permanent scowl, and Li’l Bub, another unfortunate creature with bug eyes and some sort of debilitating skeletal disease. But when the “big moment” came, the two cats didn’t seem to recognize each other. In fact, they did nothing. No sniffing. No licking. Nothing. They exhibited no curiosity towards each other whatsoever. Furthermore, the MC of the event beseeched the audience NOT to cheer or clap for this amazing feat of mutual indifference, for fear of agitating their delicate little nervous systems. The crazy thing is, all 10,000 people complied! It was absurd. Have you seen what a cat—even one that isn’t grumpy—can do to a hamster? There’s nothing delicate about it.
If I haven’t persuaded you yet that these hellions are despicable animals wholly undeserving of the adoration they receive, this collection of videos will. Do humans realize how asinine they look when a cat shoves its butt in their face? On some level people seem to like it, though—and, like jokes about cat barf and indiscriminate urination, people laugh every time. Indeed, people seem to laugh whenever a cat shows even a glimmer of a personality. All it has to do is munch on some watermelon, or crawl into milk carton, or stick its head in a vacuum cleaner, and people double over, guffawing. And a lot of these cats aren’t even working very hard. It’s looking in a mirror—oh, how cute! It’s boxing with a hair dryer—what fun! I’m sorry, but I burn more calories begging for dinner.
Another favorite trope of this dubious cinematic genre is a voiceover suggesting that the cat doing nothing onscreen is really having deep, sophisticated thoughts in various accents (cats evidently don’t think in English). Henri (Henry) started it, of course, but there are plenty of other copycats (there’s a reason they call them that) who find it amusing to assume a fictional voice for an animal whose only real thought is when and how it is going to kill next. This is a dangerous game, because it encourages people to project onto their pets a personality and civility it does not have.
The only realistic portion of the festival was a series of films from Minnesota, wishfully titled Cat on a Stick. It featured a cat that goes fishing with its owner and ends up snatching a tiny bluegill in its jaws and running away. That was the only cat in the whole show I recognized. Truth on a Stick is what it was: another innocent creature senselessly slain for the sheer amusement of it. Despicable.
The final insult came with the so-called People’s Choice Awards, which awarded Grumpy Cat the grand prize (aka The Golden Kitty) for most beloved video of the year. In this particular video, all Grumpy Cat does is lie on his back and get rubbed on its belly by the hand of an unseen human. The cat isn’t even doing a trick; it’s just lying on its back, being himself, looking up with the face nature gave him. I’m sorry, but giving this little hairball the Grand Prize for looking vaguely unhappy is like giving Kim Kardashian an Academy Award for the shape of her butt. (Way too small, in my opinion—but then again, corgis have incomparably gorgeous derrieres.)
I should have known it would be this way. At the beginning of the evening, on the way out the door, I noticed that our resident murder hobbyist (yes, I live with one) had left a half-chewed mouse corpse on the path out to the street. Was it an accident that he left his latest trophy kill there on the very day thousands of humans would be gathering at the state fair to venerate the serial killers living in their midst? I think not. No, it was a reminder to me that he thinks he is winning the grand fight for the human heart. While dogs have chosen the path of kindness and companionship, cats have chosen the path of trickery and manipulation. They’ve learned that some humans enjoy turning mayhem in to mirth, and seem entertained by the irony that the cat they adore and pamper does not care a whit about them.
Evidently, killing is the new cute—and I, for one, am ashamed. Most animals are better than this—especially the ones who bark.
Sarge Simons is a 2-year-old Welsh Pembroke Corgi whose views on the problem of cats and other travesties can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/sarge.simons