I’m having a hard time explaining the appeal of I Can Has Cheezburger, a Web site devoted to cute pictures of animals (mostly cats) that have been humorously captioned. I mean, it’s obvious why cute pictures and humorous captions would be appealing; what’s hard to explain is why it’s so appealing that I squeal with glee each time a new one is posted.
It started in January with the picture shown at right. The caption became the name of the site, and now dozens and dozens of similar pictures have been posted. Some are funnier than others, and many recent ones are responses to previous ones. For that reason, I recommend browsing to the last page of the site and working your way forward.
The basic idea, I guess, is that animals are adorable, and that making them appear to speak in broken, child-like, poorly spelled English is even more adorable. I concur with this philosophy. “Can I have a cheeseburger?” is funny for the above picture, as that chubby cat does indeed look thrilled at the prospect of eating something. But “I can has cheezburger?” is 11, maybe 12 times funnier.
These pictures are known by various names: kittahs (from the way Cartman on “South Park” pronounces “kitty”), cat macros, and lolcats (“LAWL-cats,” from Internet lingo LOL). People first started making them to post in Internet forums, either as a commentary on the discussion, or as a cute way of quelling heated debates. I prefer “lolcat,” because it leads to a captioned picture of a walrus being called a “lolrus.” Here is the first lolrus (click for a link to the larger version):
Now there’s an ongoing saga of walruses trying to find their buckets. Who knew walruses could be as cute as kitty cats?