Last night, for a friend's birthday, I attended the first ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival at the Walker Art Center. Yes, internet cat videos are apparently an established enough art form to draw thousands of people to watch them outdoors for almost the length of a feature film. As I am a firmly established cat hater, a part of my soul died last night. A few of them were pretty funny.
When I got there around 7, it was already pretty surreal. At least a thousand people were already sitting on blankets all over the hill next to the Walker. Some people were wearing cat ears; some had brought their cats. There were stands selling food, T-shirts, and souvenirs by the building; also one calling itself the "Death Metal Drawing Club". (I saw nothing at the stand that made that name make any sense) A local band (also in cat headgear) was playing music on the stage. It was a pretty nice amphitheater, all for watching crazy cat videos.
People kept coming to the hill and I sat and talked with friends as they arrived until about 8:30, by which time they had put up a screen where the band was and an announcer gave a brief introduction. After a few quick ads from the main sponsor, Animal Planet, we were off.
The videos were organized into categories: the obvious "Comedy", but also ones like "Drama", "Musical", "Foreign", and "Documentary". It was basically like a YouTube cat video binge only you got to enjoy it with thousands of other people, which more than made up for the smallness of the screen from our distance. I probably laughed and "Aww"ed less than anyone there, but some of them were legitimately pretty good, particularly the peoples' choice winner, the melancholy faux-French "Henri 2 Paw de Deux", and a nightmarish/brilliant animated video, "Kitty City".
So, there you have it. Life imitates internet memes.