You might expect an investigative journalist who’s flown in from the Netherlands to become a Fellow at the World Press Institute to use this blog to share insights on serious subjects like politics or criminal investigations. I’m afraid those comments will have to wait, since my host family promised me to introduce me to Minnesota culture by taking me out to one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a very long time.
Picture a huge field next to the Minneapolis Walker Art Center, swarming with thousands of people. Some are hipsters and some are couch potatoes of every imaginable age. They’ve brought blankets and sit around with friends sharing meals; they’ve stood in line indefinitely at a couple of food trucks. Now picture these people wearing cat ears, cat t-shirts and cat dresses. Some of them have painted whiskers on their face. They’re visiting stalls that have cat food on offer or sell free sticky on cat tatoos, especially designed for the occasion by local artists. You hear them scream “Cats! Cats! Cats!” as the sun starts setting and realise that, no, you haven’t accidentally eaten a magic mushroom, you’re just at the 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival.
That’s right, an outdoor event totally devoted to videos of cats, taken from the internet. They’re neatly presented in different categories like drama, comedy, musical, action/adventure, animation and documentary, culminating in the Golden Kitty Awards.
There are video’s of cats jumping on things (and failing), cats trying to get into things (and succeeding), cats reacting to things (record players, tv’s, yoga poses), cats reacting to fellow cats (fighting or fleeing the scene) and cats used as props by cat lovers who’re aspiring Quentin Tarantinos, Steven Spielbergs or George Lucases.
The presentation lasted 75 minutes and the crowd loved every second of it, asking each other “What’s that cat touching there?” or just exclaiming “Oh, cat’s and boxes! My favourite!”. Mostly they were just laughing or sighing at the site of another big-eyed feline looking for sympathy.
And I have to admit, I was guilty of some “ah’s” myself. There is indeed something enchanting about animals that project human emotion in either a sophisticated or clumsy way. I learned that Minnesota culture has plenty of room for goofiness. And that there’s a place on earth where you can stand in line for a bathroom and ask the muscle jock who’s standing in front you: “Hey, where did you get your tail?”. He won’t hit you in the face. He’ll just point to a stall and say: “There, but you have to be quick. They’re very popular.”
PS. As an homage to the blog People of Walmart, I’ve added some pictures below: The People of the Internet Cat Video Festival: