Grumpy Cat was an asshole
RIP, “Grumpy Cat.”
Fondest farewell to the world’s favorite contemptuous internet feline.
At the internet mourns and reflects on her life, and wonders when Garfield will finally die, social scientists ponder Grumpy Cat’s sensational popularity, staggering impact on humanity and powerful hold on popular culture. But it’s simple to me:
We love assholes. We’re addicted to assholes. We can’t get enough of assholes. We identify with assholes. We respect assholes.
Assholes will do and say things we won’t or don’t have the courage to. Assholes represent our worst selves — the devil inside — so we don’t have to. They’re like lawyers, PR firms or ambassadors to murderous dictator countries. Assholes are our own personal Jesus, willing to take the heat for sins we’d love to commit but are too cowardly.
Supposedly we despise assholes. But we cow and bow to and boot-lick assholes from Wall Street to Washington, from Silicon Valley to Studio City.
Assholes kick ass, take names and break eggs to make omelets. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t destroy society by not being assholes.
Assholes amuse us. Assholes can be smart, hilarious, fun. They have no filter; they speak their minds; they do as they please. They don’t care if they shock or offend. They enjoy it. Like Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K., when assholes feel like taking it out, they take it out.
When they’re not lying and screwing you over, assholes can be refreshingly honest. They don’t preface an insult with, “Don’t take this the wrong way.” When you’re insulted, that’s on you.
Assholes get to be our bosses by being assholes and then boss us like assholes. We gripe but let them. Some of our best friends, beloved family members and memorable exes are complete and utter assholes, but we defend them.
Like Grumpy Cat, the Honey Badger also was internet famous because he was an asshole.
Assholes of a feather flock together. For example, Sarah Sanders has no qualms about saying asshole things to defend America’s assholiest president ever. He is beloved by the most patriotic, God-fearing Americans who will say horrific things to you on the internet, anonymously, if you suggest they’re assholes even when they’re secretly proud of it.
The worse the asshole, the less we feel like assholes in comparison.
Like Jack Nicholson with Helen Hunt in “As Good As It Gets,” we love when assholes inspire us to make them better people. Like Don Quixote and other tragic heroes who tilted at windmills, we love an impossible dream.
Assholes in turn make us better people because whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
Assholes make us whole.
But maybe Grumpy Cat wasn’t really an asshole. Maybe he was misunderstood. Maybe he was really a Highly Sensitive Feline, an HSF.
I’m referring, of course, to another internet sensation, Elaine N. Aron, PhD, and her bestselling book, “The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You.”
Apply Dr. Aron’s test of an HSP to Grumpy Cat:
· Grumpy Cat was easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby.
· Grumpy Cat was rattled when she had a lot to do in a short amount of time.
· Grumpy Cat made a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows.
· Grumpy Cat needed to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where she could have privacy and relief from the situation.
· Grumpy Cat made it a high priority to arrange her life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
· Grumpy Cat noticed and enjoyed delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, and works of art.
· When Grumpy Cat was a kitten, her parents and teachers saw her as sensitive or shy.
· Grumpy Cat had a rich and complex inner life.
Dr. Aron says one in five people are HSPs. She teaches us to identify, understand, appreciate and even cherish what makes HSPs delightfully special. Highly Insensitive Assholes like me sneer that HSPs are self-centered neurotic ass-pains best avoided.
But if we love a Grumpy Cat, why can’t we find it in our hearts to love Grumpy People?
Grumpy Cat had an answer to that generous thought: “Your face. It’s breathing my air. Stop it.”
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer