By articulating profound feelings through cats and marine mammals speaking garbled English, we’re able to shroud genuine emotions in pseudo-irony — which means those animals can evoke deeper emotions without fear of mockery or cheapness.
“The animals aren’t animals at all, they’re stand-ins,” explains Mankoff. “They’re hybrids we use as devices to talk about the feelings we can’t name in other ways.”
How does this relate to Hitler and making fun of the BNP? Well, only in that Chris’ mash-up is essentially a one-panel cartoon in YouTube form. Like a one-panel cartoon, its actually a one note joke. Put an emotion or context you want to mock into a preposterously stretched yet analagous situation, et voila! Mirth ensues.
As I’ve said before, we live in the age of the remix, the mash-up, so its only natural that our humour should be of this form too. Pick two ideas, any two ideas, and put them in a blender. Corporate Pie-Charts vs Commercial Pop Music, for example. Or another, which rather brings this post to a full, zen-like circle: Cats and Hitler:
With the exception of the truly extraordinary image above, I would suggest that another feature of this kind of humour is its rather transient nature. Over at the Liberal Conspiracy, Unity may indeed be ROTFLHFAO just now, but when the news story fades it is unlikely to be quite so hilarious. It is certainly true of the GraphJam site (which is in desperate need of an editor). Anything that includes the word’s “Sarah” and “Palin” now seems very passe.
Interestingly, the one-panel joke lends itself very well to a cross-over into the print world. Nowadays, publishing an annual ‘best-of’ book allows these site owners to monetize their humour. The Onion AV Club has a run-down of 27 Popular Websites That Became Books. LOLCats is at Number 1, obv. More on them another time…