Bad Cat: 244 Not-So-Pretty Kitties And Cats Gone Bad, by Jim Edgar
This book is not as good as I wanted it to be. I am definitely a fan of silly cat humor , but this book has a far darker edge than I appreciated. It is one thing to gently smile and joke about cats being devious or bossy, or making imaginary silly languages for cats to use when they are fighting invisible enemies or eating invisible cheeseburgers, but this book crossed well over the line from merely bad cats to portrayals that were downright disgusting. I didn’t get this book as being the result of a genuinely funny sense of humor about cats, but instead saw it as somehow demeaning and degrading to everyone involved, including perhaps even the reader. In reading this book it didn’t look like anyone was having a good time, not the cats being portrayed, not the vile excuse for a humorist writing the book, and certainly not me as a reader. Far from being a lighthearted and funny book, this book left a sour taste in my mouth as if my patronage of this book would encourage more volumes like this one.
Other than a short introduction which treats the supposed desires of cats in a particularly creepy and unpleasant way, each of the 244 pages of this book consists of the same format: Caption, photo of bad cat, and name, age, and main hobby of said bad cat. In the hands of a skillful humorist, this would be enough for a great book, but the author manages to bungle the job badly by not only painting the cats as evil, but showing a decidedly unpleasant side to many of the cats. The cats prognosticate death or horrible illness (like kidney failure) for the reader, joke about losing their testicles or being jailbait or filming pornography. Numerous cats are portrayed as being alcoholics or drug addicts of some kind, or are portrayed as drug dealers or prostitutes. At the end of the book, after one has read one dreary and horrific portrayal of a cat after another, the author has the temerity to ask for more submissions from readers so that they can add what they (mistakenly) consider to be humorous hobbies and captions. At least they do not blame the people submitting the photos for the terrible choice of captions, but it is difficult to see after reading this book that many people at all would want to submit their cat pictures to the treatment the author and his associates give to these cats.
There are at least a few larger problems that this book reveals. For one, it demonstrates that while cats are undoubtedly very humorous animals, not all treatments of cats are created equal. Cats can withstand gentle mocking humor and sophisticated humor, but this book’s treatment comes off as gross because the cats are not portrayed as silly but well-meaning or cute or devious and clever and filled with entertaining self-justification but in an entirely malign and disgusting manner. Who wants to think of their cats in the way that this author seems to view them as a criminal underclass of society? This book fails at the fundamental level of cat humor, and that is the way that cats are funny because they are adorable and cute and a bit whimsical in their behavior. Instead, these cats are crass and rude, and if one takes this to be a sign of the author’s own mindset, that suggests something far more troubling and negative about the author than about the cats who are portrayed in this book as being full of evil and darkness.
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