Cat-lebrity, Internet sensation, animal rights activist and meme icon Lil BUB is a Bloomington native living not five blocks from where I am typing this very sentence. BUB could be described as the perfect storm of mutated cuteness; she has been blessed with dwarfism, a slacked tongue, and a lower jaw too small for her face. How, besides the Internet, in a state known mostly for obesity and in a town known mostly for binge drinking, could an adorably deformed four-legged critter reach the heights of fame which young Bub has accomplished? BUB's rise in the blogosphere began like all great modern stories; not with a bang, but with a YouTube video.
As BUB's dude says, "BUB's fame started with her Tumblr blog and Instagram. A particular photo went viral and got to the front page of Reddit and since then everything kept growing. Then Buzzfeed published an article on her that went viral as well, and after that everything was crazy."
Since this original introduction to the public, BUB has left a trail of blogospheric carnage in her paw steps. Jezebel, Buzzfeed and Jakprints have all jumped on the BUB bandwagon. Even hipster bible Vice Magazine has lifted its dusty nose from the coke pile to give Lil BUB some loving nods.
These sources, while impressive, make sense for an Internet sensation like BUB to find refuge. Cute memes are cool, simply because of their stupidity. The cultured consumer of these sorts of memes enjoys the sensation of cuteness and the added bonus of feeling decadent by consuming something so vapid. It is because of this that BUB's biggest accomplishment, in this reporter's eyes, was her appearance on Good Morning America. The GMA audience isn't bracing itself against BUB or consuming her cute-as-hell visage with an ironic or cynical slant. They are consuming and viewing BUB from a perspective without tongue-in-cheek pretense or self satire. BUB has gone beyond the Internet.
What is perhaps most interesting about BUB, as a cat-lebrity, is the anthropomorphized world humans have created around her. BUB is currently involved in a feud that would give Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj a run for their money. BUB's completely manufactured animosity for fellow cat-lebrity Tard the Grumpy Cat has been reported in The Huffington Post, who even released an exclusive interview with Bub about the dramatic throwdown between her and Tard.
I must admit, while reviewing these blogs, my mind went places that make me cringe to admit. I found myself thinking, "Who does this Grumpy Cat asshole think he is?! He has one cheap trick - looking like a downer, while BUB can show a goddamned impressive range of emotions!" The life we have projected onto BUB may be just one example of a larger, cat-centric cultural trend. The Internet, our expansive human experience database, is literally brimming with images and articles of cats. A quick database search for the word "cat pulls up 1.99 billion results; that's more than the words "porn" (1.36 billion), "politics (1.06 billion) or even "death" (1.61 billion). And as Smosh.com says at the top of its "Ten Most Influential Cats of 2012" list (on which BUB placed in the top three, of course), "The Internet rules our life. Cats rule the Internet. Ipso facto, cats rule us all."
Whether you think cat-lebrities are adorable, abominable or overdone, it's hard to resist BUB's charm - and impossible to deny her fame. We, as Hoosiers don't exactly have an extensive list of celebrities which carry our thoughts and hearts into the national spotlight. It is hard to find, hrough art, science or non-sporting entertainment, a proper outlet for our abundant state pride. Perhaps BUB is our chosen one! BUB's fame is so innocent and charming that she may be our last best hope for a public relations defense against the Jacksons. (When searching Indiana celebrities two of the most searched names are James Dean with 94.5 million results and Michael Jackson with 4.51 million results. BUB may not even be close to these two icons with her 1.77 million, but she sure is creeping up to Vivica A. Fox's 4.78 million!)
I, for one, am proud to say that BUB is my neighbor. Despite my pseudo-intellectual desire to call for more gratifying entertainment, I just can't escape the fact that Lil BUB might just be the most human meme I have ever encountered.