Getting into the Game by Chris Clark
Whoever said ‘cats are people too’ was an idiot.
Cats are not people; unless you think people should be sneaky, anti-social types who sleep a lot dreaming up ways to scratch your face.
Still, there are an awful lot of cat owners out there who love their feline companions, and would be lost without them. They treat their cats like family, or friends, or better than friends. They treat cats like gold.
Enter the Golden Kitty Award.
This past summer an estimated 10,000 people, double what organizers expected, made their way to beautiful downtown Minneapolis for the inaugural Internet Cat Video Film Festival. There were cat lovers of all kinds in the throng, some wearing kitty T-shirts, some donning ears and whiskers, and some with real cats tagging along on leashes.
They were all there for a public screening of cats on video; of cats being cute, cats being bad, and cats simply being cats. The Internet is riddled with cat videos, and people can’t get enough of them. For reasons no one can quite explain, there is something about the furry lumps that makes them natural stars.
Some 10,000 videos, starring cats of all shapes and sizes, were submitted from around the world. There were tabbies battling metronomes, cats with cardboard boxes, even kittens riding a vacuum. The fat cat on an underwater treadmill was especially unsettling, and gets my vote for best horror film.
Judges narrowed the field to 80 top clips for the festival, and the Golden Kitty award went to a Seattle filmmaker whose two-minute video showcased the listless angst of a delightfully sullen black-and-white French puss. It is hard-hitting, surreal, and flat-out funny.
As he lays about the house, moody Henri le Chat Noir ponders his tedious, housebound existence. “I am free to go, yet I remain,” Henri says as he peers out the window. “The 15 hours a day I sleep have no effect. I wake to the same tedium.”
Mocked by birds and mice that sit in cages just out of reach, Henri drones that he is surrounded by morons, and that he alone feels such torment. “We cannot escape ourselves,” he purrs to his reflection in the mirror.
The film even has a riveting surprise ending, as Henri battles his cat door at top speed. It is something you’ll want to watch over and over again.
It baffles me how people can lavish so much affection, attention and income on their pets. They talk to them, and treat them, as if they were people; sometimes to a point bordering on mental illness. I’ve seen it. No wonder Henri le Chat Noir is so sad. Surely he’s seen it too.
Cats, no matter how cute or entertaining, are not people. After watching this year’s Golden Kitty Award winner, however, I can certainly see how one might become a star; nine lives, hairballs and all.