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Internet cat stars scratch the surface for fame

February 5, 2013 • Business


In this May 2011 photo provided by mugumogu, Scottish fold Maru rests in a cardboard box in Japan. After years of viral YouTube viewing and millions of shares, the cat stars of the Internet are coming into their own in lucrative and altruistic ways. Roly poly Maru, the megastar in Japan with millions of views for nearly 300 videos since 2007, has three books and a calendar, among other swag for sale. (AP Photo/mugumogu)

NEW YORK (AP) — They frolic in empty boxes and stick their heads under faucet streams of water. They dance on tippy toes and fly through the air with Pop-Tarts. They play piano wearing little frocks and get tickled to distraction to the delight of millions on YouTube.

I speak, of course, of the cat stars of the Internet, a place filled with felines and their wacky uploading humans since the dawn of bandwidth. Now, after years of viral viewing, they’re coming into their own in lucrative and altruistic ways.

The first Internet Cat Video Film Festival drew a Woodstock-esque crowd of more than 10,000 — people, that is — to a Minneapolis art museum in August. Police closed a span of highway clogged with cars trying to get to the Walker Art Center for the free outdoor slate of 80 videos culled from 10,000 submissions that covered the simple, funny moment to polished animations and works made by trained filmmakers.

“People were spilling out into the streets. It kind of took our breath away. You hit the people that are the cat lovers but you also get people who just like sharing something on the Internet, and it kind of reaches across age groups,” said the museum’s Scott Stulen, who worked on the festival and helped curate entries.

Corporate kittydom is happy with the higher profile for the cat meme, which Login to read more

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