There was a Blogapalooza hour tonight -- it's where ChicagoNow writers write on a specific topic in 60 minutes. I missed it tonight, but had a post brewing when I got home. Turns out that my post fits into the "Write a letter to someone or some entity with whom you have had a disagreement" realm quite well.
So, the news broke today that Hello Kitty is *not* a cat. Come again? Yes. I'm reading countless articles proclaiming that Hello Kitty is not a cat.
UMMM ... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Part of the reason this is getting a lot of press is that Hello Kitty is 40 this year (me, too!) and there's a lot of fanfare for the little kitty that has lit up so many hearts.
The other reasons that everybody and their brother posted about it today¹ are because 1. It's a much sweeter story than Ferguson and Iraq and Ukraine and Israel and 2. BECAUSE OF COURSE HELLO KITTY IS A CAT.
In the L.A. Times article that started all this madness, Christine R. Yano, the author of "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific," told The Los Angeles Times that she described Hello Kitty as a cat. "I was corrected — very firmly," she says. "That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show (she's also curating an exhibit for the Japanese American National Museum). Yano tries to give weight to this explanation:
Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature.
That's what you said to her. That Hello Kitty is not a cat. To elucidate the point, we find out all of the (supposedly) corrobrating details throughout the many blog posts. She's a British girl in the third grade who lives outside of London. Her name is Kitty White. Her parents are George and Mary. She's a Scorpio. She has a twin sis, Mimmy, and her very OWN cat, Charmmy Kitty. She loves apple pie.
Yano says of the backstory:
I could go on. A lot of people don't know the story and a lot don't care.
You know why they don't care, Sanrio (and Yano)? Because it's bullshit. It's a joke. She HAS WHISKERS! What third-grader has WHISKERS?
And she walks on two legs? Like ... Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Daniel Tiger, Snoopy, and too many more to mention? The fact that it's a made-up thing means we can suspend our disbelief. No one looks at Bugs and goes, "Man, rabbits can't walk on two feet. This is a steaming pile of hot garbage."
No. you know what IS, though? Waiting 40 years to clarify this ambiguity. Well, in your minds, Sanrio. Cause NO ONE else was doubting Hello Kitty's species. Also ... why not name the brand "Hello, Kitty," if Kitty is a girl? You know why? Cause she's NOT A GIRL! She's a cat.
If you had this elaborate backstory, wouldn't you want people to know it and engage with it? And when you figured out that everyone saw Hello Kitty as a cat, why would you wait decades to straighten us all out? Why not leave this in a secret nook for the most hardcore of Kitty fans to know?
Sanrio ... when I walked into the Hello Kitty store on Michigan Avenue, I lost my ever-lovin' mind. I laughed uncontrollably for minutes. I was so overwhelmed by how many things had this cutie cat on them, and how wonderful it was to be surrounded by such vast amounts of cuteness.
You know what the world loves, Sanrio? Cat videos. There might be a few good third-grader videos, but by and large -- it's cats. Because that's cute. Just like Hello Kitty. WHO IS A CAT.
Sanrio, in your bio for Hello Kitty, you say:
As tall as five apples, and as heavy as three, Hello Kitty is a bright little girl with a heart of gold. She loves to bake cookies and play the piano, and dreams of one day becoming a pianist or maybe even a poet.
Third graders are not as heavy as three apples. You know what is? A cat. Please make this go away, Sanrio. Everyone knows you are wrong and this should be the premise of an Onion article.
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