‘I Can Has Cheezburger’ and ‘I Has A Hot Dog’
Posted by lisagbrown on February 22, 2008
If the title of this post looks like gibberish to you, let me explain. Two of the top blogs on wordpress are:
Each site is devoted to humorous photos of pets, pictures that are made even more amusing by strange captions written in broken English. These sites have become something of a phenomenon, generating pages and pages of contributions from loyal readers and their pets.
There is an unusual addictive quality to these websites. You simply can’t view a photo of a cat striking an amusing pose without feeling compelled to look at another. And another. And another. The urge to scroll down to view more and more pictures, to click “next page” again and again, is a bit baffling. What is it about these benign and charming photos that has captured the attention of the web community?
Contemporary office drone culture perpetuates an environment where short, funny interludes are a valued commodity. Content that provides a lot of entertainment without much time investment (and can be quickly closed in the event of a surprise visit from a supervisor) is a perfect solution for bored masses who inhabit a cubicle. (Disclosure: I consider myself a member of this bored community.)
But it’s not just the format that has made these sites such a success. In fact, this type of interactive pet-sharing seems to have begun years ago with the site stuffonmycat.com. The telling tagline of this website is “stuff + cats = awesome,” and it provides exactly what the url suggests: pictures of cats with stuff on them. The “stuff” can include household objects, food, jewelry, clothing, even other animals.
Upon first learning about these sites my immediate concern was for the welfare of the animals. But there is no evidence of mistreatment in any of these pictures. The truth is, the images look like silly pictures I might have taken of my own animals. The worst that can be said is that sometimes the animals look mildly annoyed, or slightly embarassed.
In truth, what is so compelling about these sites is what they reveal about how people feel about their animals. After scrolling through page after page of goofy animal pictures, it becomes obvious how much these animals are adored. They are obsessed upon even, to the degree that every amusing tidbit of their lives is documented. Further still, people are driven to share the joy they derive from their relationship with their animal. In posting a photo, a person is not only sharing a funny picture. He or she seems to be saying: ‘look at who I come home to every day. Look at what a unique individual my animal is. Look at how lucky I am to share my life with this critter.’ These sites are not just a fun way to pass the time at work. These sites are an homage to the profundity of the love between a person and his or her animal companion.
(First two photos are from I Can Has Cheezburger, the last photo is from Stuff on My Cat.)