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I'll get right to the point: The lolcat is a species of cartoon. As I did, you may have seen one or more without knowing what they were called, because lolcats are a big Internet fad, or in Internet jargon, a viral meme. A basic lolcat consists of a cute cat photo overprinted with a humorous caption. Cuteness is essential, and is usually intensified by the use of odd spelling and bizarre grammar. The lol, of course refers to the abbreviation for "laughing out loud," found throughout the anglophone Internet. (Hmmm… I wonder: what is the expression in, say, the Hungarian Internet?)
As cartoon taxonomy goes, a lolcat is a subspecies of the gag cartoon, a one-panel pictorial joke, as exemplified currently in the New Yorker magazine. Gag cartoons are to be differentiated from multi-panel comics and animated cartoons. My last post to Jonathan's Coffeblog documented the rise of a multimedia empire from a single gag cartoon. The availability of digital cat photos, downloaded or homemade, and of software which can superimpose a caption, has made cartooning (like weblog publishing, typography, and videography) possible for almost anyone.
Wikipedia describes lolcats as a form of image macro, a high-falutin' term for another Internet medium, the thread bomb. Thread bombs are lobbed by Internet bulletin board participants, who want to make a point emphatically. One of my favorite thread bombs is, "Holy retarded topic, Batman!" An exploration of the amusing fare dished out by threadbombing.com reveals a particular interest in the human female breasts in addition to cats and other small animals.
This element of sexism gave rise to the idea reflected in the lolcat I created for the image accompanying this blogpost. (Acknowledgement is due here to my cat Mazel for posing for the photo.) Is it possible that crude humor at the expense of members of the species Felis cattus is nothing more that crass speciesism? In other words are those of us, me included, who derive amusement from lolcats little more than speciesist pigs? But on further reflection, it is unquestionably speciesist to hurl political invectives, such as "racist p--" at the expense of the species Sus scrofa domestica. Gee, life in the 21st Century is complicated.Permanent Link to This Entry | | | Technorati Tag: Lolcat blog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)
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