This week James Cartwright worries about the state of cat-based tumblrs and the legacy of this kind of temporary online content and whether it’s ever acceptable to put a photoshopped cat in a lovely book. As ever you can add fuel to the fire below…
I’m in a bit of a pickle. This week (and we’re only half-way through it so far) I’ve spent about an hour of my time scrolling through this tumblr of brides throwing cats. Of course they’re not actual brides throwing actual cats, or rather they are actual brides, but the cats have been photoshopped in by a person, or persons, with a fair bit of time on their hands. The photoshopping itself isn’t especially convincing; I can see perfectly clearly that these aren’t real images, but there’s something so absurd about cats being hurled through the air at a wedding that I’m powerless to stop scrolling.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. There’s an endless stream of blogs out there with similar content, like the London Grumblr, these famous movie posters improved by sharks, and then of course there’s all the Disney princesses with Nicholas Cage’s head on. Every week more of these ‘resources’ vie for my attention (these are all taken from the last few weeks of The Weekender) luring me into their vapid content like the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame.
Even though I know it’s wrong, I still enjoy this method of killing time, but it does make me wonder what kind of legacy we’re leaving behind in the vast digital wasteland of the internet. Will we look back in years to come at these airborne cats and laugh still? One day far in the future will I tuck my children into bed and show them vintage gifs on the London Grumblr instead of reading them a story, or when I’m old and haggard will I toothlessly reminisce with similarly ancient friends about that blog that stuck shark heads on movie posters? I hope not.
In general I think of this kind of online content as being temporary and having no real longevity. I expect in a year’s time that the Nicholas Cage/Disney princess fad will have finished and its creator moved on to loftier pursuits (maybe pictures of Danny Glover with Mel Gibson’s mouth or Ryan Gosling licking himself). But then, just to completely contradict that idea we printed these cats in famous paintings in last year’s It’s Nice That Annual and gave longevity to something that’s otherwise impermanent. Now I will actually be able to look back on this strange subsection of the online community in a physical printed book that features these coffee break entertainers alongside actual real-world artists and designers.
It’s safe to say I’m left confused about this part of modern culture, despite being right in the middle of it all. What will happen to all this online content in the future? Will this pastime just fade and die as other web-based trends come into play? Is it inherently wrong to print this kind of stuff in a book or should I just stop thinking about it, chill the heck out and get back to my cats and brides?