Philbrook celebrates the cultural phenomenon of Internet cat videos

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by Camille Rutherford
Southeast Campus Editor 

In September, Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art hosted an event new to Tulsa.

The idea of an Internet Cat Video Festival began with Philbrook director Scott Stulen at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2012.

As the new director for the Philbrook, Stulen has brought the festival with him to Tulsa.

“The original festival, was really the idea of taking YouTube videos, so often videos you watch by yourself on your phone or on your computer, but not usually with friends or in a social setting, and curating a festival and watching them in a more collective social setting,” Stulen said.

The only thing left was to decide on a subject for the videos.

“Cat videos seemed like the obvious subject to do that with,” he said.

Cat video enthusiasts will attest to the fact that the quality and length of Youtube cat videos can vary greatly.

The festival itself centered on a curated film rather than individual clips.

“It’s a compilation thing,” Stulen said.

“I used to choose the videos when I was running the festival, but now it’s actually being run by Will Braden, one of the original cat video creators based in Seattle.”

The process of choosing the individual clips to include is a lengthy one.

“[Braden] goes through thousands of videos and selects a reel that’s about 85 or so videos stretched out over about 75 minutes. It’s showing the best of the best cat videos from this year.”

The film included many different types of clips. From the ever popular clips of cats falling off of furniture to the brief fad of jump scaring cats with vegetables.

“[The film] is broken into sections. So think about comedy, drama, foreign films, and musicals. It’s everything from music videos that might have cats involved in them to the catching three seconds of a cat falling off the table, or being scared by a cucumber, and even a few celebrity cats mixed in as well.”

From the dawn of the internet cat video, there have been a few cats that have risen to fame. Instagram has now helped these cats and their owners connect with a new audience to share new content.

Stulen, like most cat lovers, has a favorite.

“Just because I know some of these people, my personal favorite is Lil’ Bub. I’ve gotten to know Lil’ Bub and her owners very well. That’s probably my personal favorite.”

Lil’ Bub is a celebrity cat that has become famous for her unique appearance. She has a form of Dwarfism and is what is known as a perma-kitten, meaning she will permanently retain the features of a kitten, and remain the size of a kitten.

The festival’s film will include all types of clips including some of the internet famous cats that dedicated cat lovers may recognize.

The Philbrook is expecting a large crowd for the festival.

“[Held] outdoors here at the Philbrook in the garden and we’re expecting about 1,200 people for it,” Stulen said.

The Philbrook’s resident cast of feline characters are expected to attend the festival.

“We have three cats here that live in the gardens. They’re well taken care of by our garden staff. Their names are Acer, Cleome, and Perilla,” Stulen said.

“I can’t guarantee where they will be, but they will be here,” he said.

“They’ve been here for several years and they are a beloved part of the institution. I think they’re loved more than most of the artwork here.”

The cats can be found wandering around the grounds and the parking area, as well as being a frequent feature on the Philbrook’s Instagram.

“They have their own personalities and people love to come see them. Some are more social than others but they’re around in the gardens all the time.”

Guests were encouraged to bring lawn chairs as the museum was not providing seating.

“It was a great example of the innovative efforts of Philbrook and its wonderful staff,” said festival antendee Erin Whitson.

A cash bar and food trucks were available, but guests also brought their own snacks.

General admission to the Philbrook was $9, however, TCC students with a valid I.D. got in free.

For more information on the festival, visit the Philbrook’s website, philbrook.org.

For more information on Lil’ Bub, visit her website, lilbub.com.

 

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