A collection of essays centered on the ubiquitous viral cat videos on the Internet.
The product of a three-year collaboration with the Minneapolis-based Walker Art Center, this entertaining assemblage of musings, observations, and appreciations of everything feline-related on film spotlights 14 writers and cat aficionados. Editing trio Casey, Fischbach, and Schultz’s jovial and addictive anthology makes grand statements about the seriousness and the devotion involved in creating and posting pratfall videos of cats doing everything from riding an oscillating iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner to playing a keyboard or inexplicably attacking its ceramic likeness. Then there’s Internet darling Grumpy Cat, whose owner, cited in author and poet Ander Monson’s informative piece, has “monetized and merchandized” her distinctive pet’s fandom while considering “taxidermy as an option when she dies.” With lyrical turns of phrase, cultural critic Maria Bustillos fawns over the ability of felines to transcend human traits like “beauty and panic, laziness, and the potential for real idiocy.” Others—e.g., Jillian Steinhauer and editor Schultz—offer exuberant dispatches from the front lines of the Internet Cat Video Festival, where ritualistic feline worship brings about a unique social solidarity for thousands of viewers. Collectively, the essays have an eclectic and joyful appeal. Some authors, like music critic Carl Wilson, delve deeper and more studiously into the musicality and the “Zen of the cat video,” just as others offer poetic interpretations and analyses of their pop-culture relevance and historic symbolism. Seattle native Will Braden, creator of the cheeky “Henri, le Chat Noir” Web short film series, writes the most knowledgeably on the obsessive allure of the cat video and why so many explode with popularity.
Cat lovers will adore these creative reflections on the frivolity and the necessity of pets and the Web videos many believe to be “the ice cream of moving imagery.”