It was one of those 90-degree “Great MN Sweat Together” days at the State Fair. The swampy air outside the Swine Barn was redolent with the non-oinking ends of many pigs. “Two minutes to air,” I heard in my earpiece. I wondered if I’d melt right there on the pavement, waiting to do a live TV interview with Grumpy Cat. While I mopped my forehead, the A-lister was chilling (literally, with AC) in a long black limousine until the last possible moment. Grumpy Cat was promoting the popular “Cat Video Festival” at the Fair that year. But she sure as hell wasn’t traveling in a kitty carrier.
“That’s one cool cat,” I thought. The most famous feline in the world shows up promptly for an interview, with a complete entourage, trailing memes and a world-wide fan club behind her.
In my experience, Grumpy Cat, nee Tardar Sauce, was the consummate professional. Kept her paws to herself. Focused those gorgeous blue eyes on me, not the camera. Didn’t try to take over the interview. Posed uncomplainingly for a photo with yet another clown trying to imitate her frown. That famous frown, her iconic look of disgruntlement. Blasé distain. Distaste. All the dis- words. It’s not easy for a female to get away with–let alone BUILD A CAREER ON–a grumpy visage. I happen to know this from personal experience.
I worked in midtown Manhattan in the 1980s. It was an era of walking to lunch and getting cat-called (no disrespect to cats) by men. My least favorite comment I never sought out was “What’s wrong? Why don’t you smile? You’d look so much prettier.” I could go on about all the ways this is wrong or even how I have “resting bitch face,” but suffice it to say, everyone deserves zero input on how they present their faces to the public.
Of course, true to her species, Grumpy Cat could not give one flying hairball about peoples’ perceptions. Finally, a gal who felt no pressure to smile. And you know what? It wouldn’t have made her prettier. Here’s a gal who wore a purr-fect pout while finding the blackest lining of any cloud. She pissed over everything with her pessimism and we all got a great laugh out of it.
So ladies, I present to you for your consideration, Grumpy Cat, feminist icon. Every woman out there who’s had to plaster a fake smile on her face and pretend everything’s great, JUST GREAT, when it’s not–raise your lady paw in solidarity. Who could turn the world on with her scowl? Grumpy Cat. And we should all try putting on a sour puss in her memory.