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Grumpy Cat: she looks how we feel
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Cats are a perfect mascot for the Internet. They are aloof and unsympathetic, much like the world wide web itself. However, they can be cute. They are the Internet's number one animal. And because of the immediate gratification of the Internet, it means one can be famous no matter the location. An old video of a keyboard-playing cat gained popularity, even though the cat was long dead.
So I'm glad that a photo of a frowning cat has made her owner rich, if not famous. The cat owns that. Of course, I'm talking about Grumpy Cat, also known as Tardar Sauce. The misspelling of Tardar came from the owner's daughter, thereby insuring that generations to come will misspell that word if they decide to look it up online.
But Grumpy Cat comes along at a time where everything is sugar-coated so as not to be offensive. In a country where if your house burns down, your family was executed by the mob and you've got terminal cancer, you're expected to be happy you're alive, Grumpy Cat stares out at a flawed world, eternally frowning at what she sees. The frowning, according to her owner Tabatha Bundesen, is a result of feline dwarfism, and an underbite. That quirk has obviously paid off. She's made several appearances, and has all sorts of stuff with her face all over it—mugs, t-shirts, coffee (I would have expected hard liquor, in order to drown out the tedium and pain of life) and plush toys, which, according to Wikipedia, are in the works.
Good for her. This is part of the magic of the Internet. Twenty years ago, she wouldn't have been a celebrity. But because of the Internet, and because of one picture posted on Reddit, she's become an icon for people who have a gloomy outlook on the world (me) and is a refreshing rebuttal to the yellow happy face that has been around for decades now.
But I think she's cute. Years ago, I bought a teddy bear for a school friend. The stuffed animal I picked out looked pissed off. I liked the way he looked, stern and disapproving. So I got one for myself, which I still have to this day. I don't know. There's just something about him that I thought was cute. The fact that this teddy bear should be something to cuddle with and providing comfort looks supremely pissed off, stimulated my sense of irony. It's sort of like that “Uncle Sam wants you” poster. Uncle Sam doesn't look too happy, probably because sending people off to die in wars is grim business, but somebody has to do it.
So grump on, Grumpy Cat. Listen to Leonard Cohen's “Everybody Knows” and nod your head. No, he didn't write it for you, but that might as well be your theme song. I know you had fun once, and it was awful, but enjoy this ride. It isn't awful at all that in these bad economic times, a picture of a frowning cat is making your owner lots of money. Think of yourself as a sign of the times—everything sucks, and we know it. But we muddle through. Thanks, Grumpy Cat, for making grumpy acceptable.