Cat Person is exactly the type of shit that will continue to make the world not pay any attention to you, whatsoever.
I mean, you’ve got 11 minutes left of your 15 here. Please do not mistake this temporary fixation on one of your authors making bank to mean that the world is getting real to your needs. It is not, and it never will, because the world doesn’t give a shit.
You know this because you’ve seen it. But you will only ever be able to overcome it by embracing it. The world, the universe, reality – it’s all fixed against you, and no amount of participation trophies or cell phone lifelines will save you from it.
Don’t mistake my plays at those two stereotypes above to be blaming you. No, you can’t be blamed for the participation culture that you were born into; that was forced upon you. You cannot be blamed for developing unhealthy obsessions with technological devices that your parents all but glued to your hands when you were 6 years old with the warning, “Call Mommy or Daddy if anything strange happens.”
But you can be blamed for not overcoming them. But blame, like the responsibility to overcome, can take time.
Additionally, the world is fucking strange, and you got to know it through memes and social media. Unfortunately, while this story – this Cat Person – had every chance to articulate the Millennials’ issues with healthy social connection and general lack of self reflection, instead it played at some easy tropes to skirt the edges of the true topic it only wanted to talk about.
Communication is fucking hard for everyone. You don’t get a goddamn pass because you haven’t learned how to rise above your shackles yet.
This media sideshow celebrating the Cat Person author is a distraction. A shitshow that will take the author down the road most taken. It’s lit up and branded as the highway to fame and riches, but secretly, the powers that be (publishers, critics, media buyers) aim to send the author – with you in tow – careening down the steep slope of mediocrity and well past the 15-Minutes Freeway Exchange.
You only have yourselves to blame, because all you were trying to do was be recognized. Now you are, and for a half-thought-out piece of prose that plays at being self-reflective.
Killer Fact: Any literature that uses the term “Artsy” without describing why is shit. Okay, so we’ve been told, now show… New Yorker, I’m calling you out by name now, because you specifically know better than to promote Tellers.
Don’t worry, New Yorker, I won’t let on to the fact that you’re only printing this because you want to appeal to Millennials, so’s they can start buying your copy as Boomers start to mercifully die-the-fuck-off-already. You’re looking out for your business investment. But you’re not even being subtle about it.
I suppose the literary magazine that publishes Borowitz wouldn’t know much about subtlety though, would it?
Anyway, show us, motherfuckers. (I’m talking once again to the Millennials who eat this type of shit up.) Or, maybe, it’s supposed to be every bit as superficial as the villainess antagonist. You know, the one who fumbles with her own fantasy as it fails to materialize out of her challenging communications with the slovenly protagonist, himself a direct reflection of every “nice guy” the author (or her friends, ‘natch) stumbled onto during some drunken night(s). NTTAWWT.
So… the young, knowingly naive female starts talking with the older, embarrassingly awkward male. How many Millennial Yin-and-Yangs is the author trying to throw at us? Well, there was two – the play on Girl Meets Boy sandwiched right in between the 20-to-34 year-old goalposts of Millennialism itself.
There’s the image up front of the kiss. Itself, it’s aimed toward the audience to entice. This is an intimate story, or at least it tries to be a story about intimacy between two weirdos.
Here’s a tip, assholes. If you want to read a meaningful story about weirdos getting it on in weird ways with each other and then feeling weird about it, read Bukowski’s Women.
That a man mostly known for his drinking and poetry could come up with such a coup de grace that’s still relevant is striking. Cat Person fanatics, call me in 40 years and we’ll talk about if your author’s viral hit has withstood the test of time.
“People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or love.”
Goddamn. Put that in your vapes and smoke it, Millennials. Bukowski could have been referring to everyone from the Beatniks or the Greasers to any of today’s subcultures, including the type of Hipsters that are searching for meaning in every cup of coffee that they’re warming their little hands with.
Or maybe he was just being prescient about politics in America. HEYOOOOOO.
To return to my scolding of the nothingness found in the story, the sheer vapidity of it all, we focus on the part of the story where Villain Protagonist wonders whether or not Slovenly Antagonist is going to take her somewhere and, GASP, murder her.
But again, it’s nothing of the sort of thing that happens in these stories. Murder would require actual conflict, not the made-up sort that Cat Person relies on. Here, Millennials, your generalized ability to poorly communicate and over-fantasize is used as a totem, a narrative device toyed with to give Villain Protagonist depth where there is only shallows.
It’s not about her supposed vanity, or about his apparent fatness. While Slovenly Antagonist is meant to be a blank wall for the reader to project onto, he’s not really a bad person… until he shows his true, shitty colors leading up to and with the final line. It’s about interaction (done before), as well as it being about fantasy and self-deception getting in the way of interpersonal relationship building. The two are obviously shit for each other. Connecting over Red Vine jokes? Fuck yourselves.
See, Villain Protagonist desperately wants something out of her life. That’s the whole point of the story. That’s the point of working in an “Artsy” (barf) moviehouse. That’s the point of the tryst with a man 14 years her senior. That’s the point of her foray into “Adult Dating.” And that’s the point of her apparent egregious retelling to her friends of how her tryst failed with the Slovenly Antagonist. Why her friends protected her once he was identified in “their” bar.
Because of the desperate need for something, anything, to give her meaning, even if it’s a fabrication of her brief relationship. Even when it’s something as quick as the brief fantasy about being murdered by the older man on a date. There is nothing to her life, there is nothing in her soul, there is only the possibility for a connection with some random stranger who happened to briefly talk with her. Sure, Slovenly Antagonist is a blank slate who doesn’t really do anything wrong until he does. But it’s not really about him. The story is about her, with him set up as the conflict point. So to fill her nothingness – when it’s obvious that her relationships have failed – she must create something. Being a victim of his terrible advances is a close second to being a victim of his homicidal tendencies. With the former, at least she gets to shape the narrative – especially about what could have happened if she was less polite. The implication, you see.
So she took it, and in doing so becomes the vapid avatar for an entire generation. A generation who is so spoiled with memes and cat pictures and shallow stories about nothing that it cannot be asked to reflect on what it may mean to have a story about it driven by two avatars from opposing ends of its generational book ends.
Long story short, you got sold a bill of goods and it was done purely because the New Yorker, to its terrible credit, understands perfectly well how to capitalize on cultural phenomena. It did so by printing this story with the #MeToo movement still fresh in society’s collective mind. And it has done so now to increase its marketing efforts toward the Millennials in an advance play of expanding its readership into a new generation of people who are searching for something, anything, by which to judge themselves as authentic. Real.
In a sense, it’s hilariously patriarchal. Here, we have a story written by a presumed Millennial, about Millennials not communicating, that is being co-opted by a distinctly not-Millennial publishing empire to expand its audience of Millennials by communicating their poor communications right to them.
There’a s Saturday morning cartoon villain somewhere in there. No, it’s not Margot.
It’s too bad, because the story could have been so much more, had the author taken the time to reflect on what could have actually been said about intragenerational communications in a world driven more by quantity of connections over quality of them. She hinted at it, and flirted with it, but never quite got there. That’s not to say it didn’t resonate, but to think that it all happened naturally is to believe that the story wasn’t pushed at a specific time, in a specific place, to a specific demographic.
Not to worry, there will be more, especially since the ploy worked so much that the author was given a massive advance on a book of short stories – her own price for successfully selling a caricature of a generation that’s still in the process of finding itself.