Everybody loves cats; this is something we all know and have slowly come to terms with over the past 3,000 years or so. There is a beautiful masochism in showering undying love and devotion onto creatures that, more or less, really only care about the food you provide (and probably kind of want to kill you). So I guess that means it’s kind of empowering when we coerce cats into humiliating situations and film it for the viewing pleasure of millions of people worldwide.
It's also why an Internet Dog Video Festival would be kind of depressing.
But the Walker Art Center's second annual Internet Cat Video Festival, August 28 at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, wasn’t so much fun as it was surreal—which is certainly better than being boring, but most definitely makes it harder to explain. I really took for granted the joys of people watching before today; people are so interesting, especially when they’re dressed as cats.
I’m going to share with you, in no particular order, some of my favorite mind-blowing festival moments—because the people who worship our feline friends are actually a lot more interesting than the felines themselves.
- There were a few moments that I was far too sober to fully appreciate, and all of those moments involve Koo Koo Kangaroo. After they threw giant balls of yarn into the audience I was about to forsake all hope when the jumbo screens in front of the stage flashed a short audience dance number showcasing none other than the Daily Planet’s own Jay Gabler (who probably didn’t know anyone could see him shaking it to the song "Cat Party"). Seeing that was like Christmas in summertime and made all of the aforementioned awkwardness worth it.
- Nyan Cat creator Chris Torres actually walked on stage dressed as Nyan Cat. This was also the moment I discovered that some psychopath actually looped the Nyan Cat song for 100 hours straight and put it on YouTube. If you’ve ever heard that song you can understand my sentiment.
- It has been brought to my attention that videos of cats twerking are going to happen whether we like it or not.
- That cat sculpture made out of butter made me hungry for toast. Then I remembered that bread-head cat meme and suddenly everything came full circle.
- When they started bringing the actual cats on stage I began feeling sorry about how scared they seemed. Frightened cats usually react to their circumstances with spontaneous violence, and in the wake of this realization I then began daydreaming about tons of Internet cat celebs on one stage battling it out until one was left standing. Obviously, I envisioned Grumpy Cat as the winner.
- Julie Klausner eating a can of Fancy Feast and then referring to a particular Internet cat character as being "filled with existential angst." Her Funny or Die video was hysterical.
- The Cat Engineers song. Because I love a good song about poop and armpit hair.
- In a sea of people dressed like cats I saw two people dressed as chipmunks. I hid behind Rudy Fig’s painting when they came too close.
- Someone in very close proximity to me asked the friend they were with what would happen if Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub started mating on stage. The friend remarked that both cats were female, and the following response involved the term “lesbian cat action.” This is when I knew it was time to go home.
I know that this festival was created to celebrate the Internet cats that we all know and love, but in truth, it’s more a celebration of the people who hold these creature so near to their hearts. Because, let’s face it, there would be no Keyboard Cat without someone strapping him into a t-shirt and finagling his paws up and down haphazardly to simulate keyboard playing. Without the Internet, it might just seem like animal abuse.
So, in attempting to explain my experience I’ve realized that the Internet Cat Video Festival is not just about what it showcases, but about who it brings together and the excitement that those people bring with them. It’s a great time for people who love cats, and for people who love cat people.
See Todd Wardrope's photos and recap of the Internet Cat Video Festival.
©2013 Amina Harper (text) and Jay Gabler (photos)
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