I touched up on this a little bit before, but I really like the timing of it. This morning, Gawker posted an article detailing how to get rich from Memes. The particular meme that was surrounding the article, was none other than ‘Grumpy Cat’; exploited oblivious kitty with feline dwarfism. The dwarfism is conviently the cause of that signature grump.
This cat has made various tv appearances, won “Best” Meme, at the 2013 Webby’s, has a book out, and potentially a ‘Garfield-like’ feature film on the way. How is one ‘perfectly-content-and-probably-not-at-all-grumpy’ cat capable of all this? It has a manager.
One Wednesday afternoon this summer, Ben Lashes is standing on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood sucking on an electronic cigarette. He’s in tight jeans, a black fedora, dark Ray-Bans, and Air Jordan 1s. His client, Grumpy Cat, waits in a shiny black Escalade for the TMZ Hollywood tour bus.
Ben here is no stranger to representing cats, as he is manager to both Keyboard cat and Nyan cat as well. Though an acting manager to other memes, it seems that he understands that cats as being an internet gold-mine. Far more than a bitcoin will ever be.
This piece graces the cover of New York Magazine, and highlights that Lashes’ musical career probably wasn’t going anywhere. It’s a piece that shows, on the surface alone, something like Grumpy Cat is far too easy to exploit.
But don’t see what I’m writing as negativity towards that. This is just how the internet works as a business platform. As soon as the simplest thing becomes popular, anybody is capable of jumping in controlling the ‘property’ and if they’re sly enough, make money off of the stupidity of others.
You know, for lack of a better phrase.
The thing about this that Gawker points out, is that this t-shirt was lifted off one of the meme pictures, that has a quote from an existing comic. (Grumpy Cat also quotes Garfield, but who cares about that guy.) I’ve said before that this is how the internet machine works. Ebaum? Chezburger? It’s the same story. But it’s not like the ‘Grumpy Cat’ brand is aware of the rest of the internet while they’re focusing on making money of their own.
It’s hard to get upset about something like this, but it’s perfectly normal to get rubbed the wrong way when you find out the origin to some content. There’s a million things being thrown around the internet on a daily basis that never give credit to the original creator. So we get lost in the stupid joy of something until the origin takes wind of it.
Back in 2007 Todd Goldman was an American entrepreneur with a serious amount of plagiarism under his belt. He created a clothing company in which a good majority of the shirt designs were blatantly works from other artists, redrawn. The philosophy of the company seems to be in the vein of a booth containing Grey-market knock-offs. (Something I assume he still practices it today? First viewing of the website, my immediate line of sight finds a Grumpy Cat. or should I say Grampy Kat?)
Between the two, Grumpy Cat is safe from any real harm. The t-shirt is an unfortunate circumstance and nothing can really be done, other than Tardar Sauce (the real name of the cat) releasing an official apology statement. That’s something the cat will have to discuss with her manager, though she’s probably too busy shedding all over a tour bus to care.
Just for fun: For those who want to meme.
Make sure that all of the content that your image surrounds, is nothing but yours. It’s far too easy and lazy to make a buck off of the the content that others created.
Let’s say, I thought The current Kanye West Caps-Locks extravaganza towards Jimmy Kimmel was super funny. Laughing, having a good time.. Kayne West is a bit of a hot head, but that’s what we pay him for. Then Kanye comes up with a crazy new meme:
It’s so good, he’s onto something. why stop there? Maybe we can tweak it a bit? Perhaps the use of MFer is completely unnecessary. Is Jimmy Kimmel face really the equivalent of a happy Spongebob? Maybe we can change it up with some other pre-existing material?
Easy, Peasy. That one’s on the house GC. BUT, incase I potentially get sued by by the grumpycat industry, Let’s just type ‘Bad Smile’ into a google image search and come up with some options.
Please select one of four options, OR come up with some of your own.
Also if you’re an artist, and completely up for it. I humbly request this be done: Perhaps a mix of Jimmy Kimmel’s likeness with a touch of Dreamworks face? Maybe with your expertise, we can make a really cool poster out of it. All I’m saying is, IF Jimmy Kimmel has a face that Kanye West amazingly points out, and Kimmel is totally cool with it (or not, we don’t really have to tell him until this becomes more popular than it should be), we could really improve on the culture that Kanye is trying to penetrate.
So please, leave a comment below, or contact me with the form on the about page, to discuss this amazing idea further. Then maybe we could make internet
absurdity history, and get Grumpy Cat to sign said poster with their precious little paw.