Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Catist Manifesto

In an attempt to prove my catist loyalties, your humble narrator dost present to you the following academic essay upon cats in popular culture.

I recently came across a quaint print of a painting featuring a cat for sale online. While attempts to depict cats and their lives in popular culture are encouraging to the catism movement, even the most simple analysis of such depictions reveal that this trend actually works against the goals of catism by stereotyping and debasing cats. "Naught Cat V" represents the prominent cultural trend to categorize and contain cats. In this painting, a single cat is shown lapping up milk, which, the title of the painting implies, he/she has presumably spilt. The close cultural association of cats and milk obscures the myriad roles and ventures of cats within contemporary society.

Furthermore, the painting exploits the "naughty kitten" figure that is so entrenched in popular representations of cats. Perhaps the most familiar manifestation of this figure is in the children's nursery rhyme:

Three little kittens, they lost their mittens
And they began to cry:
"O Mother dear,
We very much fear
That we have lost our mittens."
"Lost your mittens!
You naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie."

The naughty kitten figure combines an admiration of the playful and "cute" qualities associated with kittenhood with a mild exasperation for the results of such qualities. This ambivalent attitude toward kittenhood creates a tension that writers and artists find powerful. Unfortunately, the naughty kitten figure promotes an unrealistic image of cats as perpetually youthful, as always kittens. The problem of the three little kittens is juvenile and lighthearted in nature (the loss of mittens, inexpensive items which can be replaced), as is their punishment (the withholding of dessert). However, rather than being simply a nostalgic anecdote of kittenhood, this depiction has infiltrated popular culture to the extent that all cats are judged by this standard. The cat in "Naughty Cat V" is no longer a kitten, yet it is presented as one through the juvenile nature of its action. The frequency of such depictions trivializes the lives of full-grown cats, subjecting all cats to the expectations that are inappropriate and one-dimensional. Just as domesticated kittens are frequently stripped of their front claws by their human companions, who prefer to think of themselves as "owners" (and thus relegating cats to the status of objects), cats of all ages, genders, and colors are being declawed, domesticated, contained by images promoting perpetual kittenhood. The time has now come. Cats of the world, unite!

4 Comments:

Blogger Mad Scientist said...

...a painting featuring a cat for sale online.

Oh, brilliant--a true masterpice! Not even Rembrandt could capture the online selling of cats in oil-on-canvas!

8/18/2006 7:31 AM  
Blogger Mad Scientist said...

What's a "masterpice"?

8/18/2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger Mad Scientist said...

I don't know.

8/18/2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger I-Cat said...

Not to mention that it ignores the disastrous gastro-intestinal results that occur from the consumption of lactose by adult cats. Could it be said to be ignoring the needs of cats, encouraging reckless feline behavior, and furthering the misinformation which causes human servants to mistakenly provide dairy products to cats? I think so.

8/18/2006 8:51 PM  

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