"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The LOL is Political

I love me some LOLcats, but from a fat acceptance standpoint, I found this one problematic:

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It bothers me a little that this image promotes the assumption that you can tell what someone's diet consists of just by looking at them. I think we have enough messages in our culture that normalize such visual interpretations of the body.

I realize that these are cats and not people, but animals are certainly not immune to becoming symbols of human social discrimination, and since anthropomorphizing animals is sort of the whole point of LOLcats, our feelings about difference often get projected onto these furry household pets.

Do you think I would get any respect from the academic world if I shifted my research focus to the political implications of I Can Haz Cheezburger?

16 comments:

dollyspeaks said...

Lol, I actually think you could do a serious dissection of the LOL cats. Because, to be honest, that's not the first time when I've seen them doing something where my feminist, FA supporter-self went, "Ugh...even here!?" When we transplant our ideas onto animals, we're transplanting cultural norms. It's sounds silly, but I actually think it could be done, and done well!

Tracey said...

I suppose I've heard of research ideas that are just as out-there. I know a PhD student who spends time dissecting the consumer messages in those weird car commercials they make the American Idol kids film while they're on the show.

plumpdumpling said...

I, of course, loved this. Even more than the exploded cat you showed me last week.

I wonder what percentage of fat people are fat not because of what they eat. Any clue?

Tracey said...

I would say that 100% people are not the size they are SOLELY by what they eat, and that there are too many variables (diet, activity levels, genetics, hormones, medications, metabolism, health, environment, etc.) controlling a person's size for us to ever be able to determine that we know anything about someone's diet just by looking at them.

Vortex91 said...

ugh...no not worth it..
Everyone's just gonna say you're over-reacting and can't take a simple joke at all.

plumpdumpling said...

YEAH, Tracey, take a joke, why don't you?

Okay, so I'm going to guess that this cat has shitty hormones, a terrible metabolism, worthless genes, little access to fresh foods, lack of motivation to work out, AND makes bad decisions about food. Which is totally fine with me and goes without judgement. Until he wants me to change the laws to suit him or give him a free seat on an aircraft.

Another question that interests me is how fat humans have been in the course of history. Aren't we at our fattest? Even those lounging nude beauties you see in ancient paintings had lovely shapes and weren't just fat rolls spilling out of every crevice.

Tracey said...

Not "shitty hormones, a terrible metabolism, worthless genes," but possibly DIFFERENT hormones, metabolism, and genes than the other cats.

And it's not asking for anything special to change laws that were made without people's interest in mind or those that discriminate against people.

(I love that if you were someone I didn't know, I would have totally interpreted your comment as hateful and ignored it. But since you're my best friend, I don't mind it a bit.)

Anne said...

There was a rather intelligent dissection of the emotional content of lolcats on salon.com recently. It's a pretty huge cultural trend, so why not examine it like an academic?
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/11/15/pathos_lolcats/index.html

Tracey said...

Excellent. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Anne!

watercat said...

Oh, Thanx. Nao I feel less sillee about this post.

Tracey said...

Fantastic!

I can take this for my language requirement courses, AND it will be relevant to my research!

Tracey said...

Or, uh.... I mean relivant to mai reesurch?

watercat said...

props to Anne for the Salon article. Comments are closed there; if anyone finds out about, or does, about any linguistic research on lolspeak, please, pleez let mee knoe abowt it.

plumpdumpling said...

Different is WRONG! Just because you have your little fat acceptance counterculture that makes you feel okay about your Pepsi and your Graeter's doesn't make it okay. Just look at goths; no one WANTS to be goth, but they're forced into it because no one else loves them. Just like the gays.

Okay, I actually felt a little bad about that last sentence. I'm just kidding, gays!

It's funny to me that all my life, I've scrutinized the popular and usually chosen the road less traveled. But I just can't accept that a spare tire looks as good as a six pack. (Not that I actually think a six pack looks good, but you get the idea.) I did, however, defend fatness to Kamran today when he said that even if you don't care about society, you should still try to be thin to "improve yourself".

snobographer said...

At first I thought the cats were eating Diet Fish and Diet Cheezburgers - as in low-fat, low-carb, low-cal Yorkshire Terriers - like they were all watching their figures.
Then I noticed it was speculating on the cats' diets by way of their body sizes.
It was funnier my way.

Tracey said...

Those little colons sure are easy to miss.