Jerry Comments on . . . Grumpy Cat

Today’s post is guest written by Jerry the Cat. Views are entirely his own.

First, let us compare two simulacra:





Which of these felines deserves to be an international superstar? “Cat” number one, whose only talent is a simulation of despair due to an unfortunate but entirely aleatory birth defect that — in itself — does not constitute anything worthy of the descriptor “talent”?

Or, perhaps, cat number two who is, by all accounts, adorable, attractive, quick-witted, charismatic and musically gifted? Add to this a thunderous drive to succeed, while playing fair, impeccable manners, a vast vocabulary and wide knowledge of subjects from the hard to the soft sciences and fine arts, numerous feline and mobile application languages, an eye for an airtight tax deduction . . . and you have, what, a close call? A tight race? A oh-boy-it’s-hard-to-choose-between-these-two-winners? What my Aunt Snow Ball (in a different context) could call a “squeaker”?


Whew. I’ve said it.

What, you may ask, is so winning about this Grumpy Cat? So captivatingly puckish that it deserves a development deal, calendars, posters, social channels, videos, TV programs, unironic guest spots on national morning programs, and a Christmas film? A what?!

The answer: Nothing. Grumpy represents the ultimate post-capitalist decoupling of meaning and value, a transmutation of the ontogony of despair into a risible effulgence of Foucaultian anti-meaning. It is the annihilation of the denotative fascist project of celebrity in a cynical pre-apocalyptic deathscape of desire; indeed, the effluence of the American dream engine, fueled by circular reactions and a radical repression — a repression that expresses itself, ultimately, in the rapture of decoupling the signa of “fame” from all categories of value, not to mention taste, until it inter alia res represents nothing so much as the mirror of our own debased and masochistic gaze.

Grumpy Cat is not a star, at least not in the received sense of a transgressive semaphor of desire bestowed on the few by the many, so that they (i.e., the Wellesian hordes) can maintain the delusional tribal project of participation in the real. (Such ludic extensibility of imagined avatars has been an impulse of the post-capitalist mind since Nietzsche’s madman limned the market square.) No, Grumpy represents the ultimate dismantling of celebrity in the service of the hypermarket, a semi-participatory surgical transection of the Hollywood montage machine within the lasered scrutiny of nihilism.

This fractal feline detaches the generalized imagery of the “star” from the moorings of the culture, setting it adrift on a gyroscopic course of antiphysical, emetic transmutation. It becomes a grotesque spectra of repulsive representations of “cat” and a hieratic fissioning of “cute.” Grumpy Cat designates the modern consumers’ desire to obliterate all that is beautiful in the service of a categorical urge for an end.

Per Baudrillard:

The original monstrosity of the beast, object of terror and fascination …. has been exchanged for a spectacular monstrosity: that of King Kong wrenched from his jungle and transformed into a music-hall star.

What is Grumpy Cat if not such a “monstrosity” — a flux and reflux of catastrophe into CAT-astrophe? I submit that this animal presages a programmatic shift in the cultural lingua of our signifiers, a short-circuiting of meaning in the service of an entirely transgressive antinomian heuristic of decimation. In other words, per Stipe, Grumpy’s fleeting (we hope) renown, may designate “the end of the world as we know it.”

Tell me how much you agree with me, below.


Gwyneth & Me: The Purrfect Couple?

My cat, Jerry, whose rise to international superstardom is the topic of this blog, has powerful feelings toward a particular celebrity. That celebrity is Gwyneth Paltrow.

"Are you out there, Gwyneth?"

“Are you out there, Gwyneth?”

How do I know this? you ask.

Recently, I enjoyed browsing an article about “The Best (and Worst!) Beach Bodies” — always an excellent topic — and had set the magazine aside to write another poem about middle-aged despair and disappointment. As chance would have it, I’d left the magazine open on the chaise to a picture of Gwyneth. This was during her recent “conscious decoupling” with her unworthy partner, Chris Martin of Coldplay. She looked like she needed a hug.

Jerry trotted up to the magazine and pushed his little nose into Gwyneth’s lovely portrait, batted his eyes, and purred. I could see this was love at first sight — a love that a young cat never forgets. Now, I was a young man at one time. I remember the wild and secret feelings I had for Pamela Sue Martin, aka Nancy Drew. I don’t blame Jerry for being alive to the instincts of his race.

Pondering my young cat and his celebrity crush, I realized something else. Jerry kind of looks like Gwyneth:


See what I mean?

The same pleading dark eyes; vulnerable, pouting lips; blunt and probing nostrils; albino-like coloring with a hint of red for danger; and aura of child-like faith and sweetness that people ultimately do love me, even if right now they are jealous haters eaten up with envy at my incredible beauty and poise. Yes, they are soulmates, Gwyneth and Jerry. He certainly seems to think so.

Now, I myself am not immune. I loved Gwyneth in Sliding Doors and Great Expectations, and, well, other stuff. Her lifestyle website GOOP cracks open a window into a world of wealth and indifference to pain that I can only admire. I was eagerly awaiting Vanity Fair‘s rumored expose — which, at last, would help me to know the real woman behind that gorgeous grille — and was disappointed by my old boss Graydon Carter’s decision to spike it. The spirit of Spy magazine, where we worked together in the 1990’s, is gone, gone with the solar wind.

Although the Star — where Jerry first met his crush — did a poll that named Gwyneth the “most hated” celebrity, fifty percent of my household thinks she would make an excellent life partner. The other fifty percent are female.

Since every worthwhile project needs a quixotic goal, I think today Jerry declared his final destination. He wants to meet Gwyneth Paltrow.

I, for one, do not underestimate his chances.