Last week I had a spit-take at the news that Grumpy Cat (whoever in the name of Bagpuss that is) is, according to The Guardian, “being groomed to star in her own movie”. Clumsy headline puns aside, this news rather depressed me until I haphazardly spun it into a positive.
No stoning until I blow the whistle.
‘Grumpy Cat‘ is that most dreaded of modern pop culture forms, the internet meme: spreader of mild chuckles and pronunciation arguments everywhere (hint: it’s not ‘mehm’ or ‘me-me’). This one is based upon a feline that has managed to convey something beyond aloof indifference, and without the aid of a laser pointer. Meme Of The Year 2013 – yes, there’s an award for that now.
… this film will be about as enjoyable as cleaning out the public toilets in Aberdeen.
Now, I don’t wish to get between the internet and its inexplicable love affair with cats, or abandon my pre-film open mindedness (many films have surprised me over the years). However, I suspect this film (should it actually happen) will be about as enjoyable as cleaning out the public toilets in Aberdeen. In fairness, you don’t need me to tell you that – the medium of film hasn’t been that kind to things born on the internet (FRED: THE MOVIE, for instance, but that was shit on YouTube as well).
Given the track record of Broken Road productions, the final product will likely feature Kevin James being painfully unfunny (which, ironically, will be a joke – he makes the cat grumpy, see! See?) or some desperate SNL alumnus, because cameos in 30 Rock are no longer an option.
However, in some strange way the idea of a Grumpy Cat ‘film’ somehow reaffirms my belief in film as the zenith of audio-visual mediums. Just about most creators in pop culture aspire to it still, even in the face of its long-prophesied decline. In 2013, the cinema would seem to be assaulted on all fronts at first glance. On the accessibility front, many have predicted the death of film as part of the rise of ‘user-generated content’ on the internet, or releasing low-budget films over the web, however shit it may be. On the quality front, television shows such as Breaking Bad, The Wire and Mad Men have far surpassed mainstream dramatic output in both narrative and technique, taking full advantage of the long form afforded in that medium.
Why on earth would 24 need a film? The Inbetweeners? A slightly miffed cat…?
Despite all of this, however, the cinema still holds an exalted position in the pop-culture canon. In addition, despite the doom mongering by the industry itself over piracy, cinema attendance in the UK has been gradually increasing over the past few years. Sure, it’s not all a bed of roses – the funding models are broken and many tentpole releases are laced with financial cynicism – but the continued drive to be on the silver screen is a validation of sorts, even if the main goal is financial. Why else would Arrested Development’s creators still want to make a film after Netflix revived the episodic format? Why on earth would 24 need a film? The Inbetweeners? A slightly miffed cat..? As long there is money there, cinema as an entertainment format will flourish (the quality debate is for another day).
Whether it’s for cash or cachet, film remains at the summit of the pop culture pyramid. Although you’d think the likes of Grumpy Cat would be the bell tolling, it’s actually a sign of rude health. As annoying and pointless as it seems, it shows reports of the death of cinema have been greatly exaggerated.
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