Comedy·POINT OF VIEW

I can't stop thinking about this cat filter video

I cannot stop thinking about this cat filter video. I know it's from two days ago, which is four decades in internet years, but I can't stop.

Matt Wright asked us if he could share his thoughts on a particular Zoom-based fail. We obliged.

I cannot stop thinking about this cat filter video. I know it's from two days ago, which is four decades in internet years, but I can't stop. 

I'm not hip, I'm a 32-year-old man trapped in a house due to a simultaneous lockdown and blizzard. I have worn track pants so often that putting on jeans feels like wearing a pair of knives. 

And I can't stop thinking about this cat filter video.

If there's a better metaphor for life in quarantine, I haven't seen it. You do the same every day. Hundreds of Zoom calls. Hardly any real life encounters. And of course, eventually, you find yourself in a professional setting earnestly explaining that "I am here and I am not a cat."

There may be no more definitive sentence to summarize lockdown life. 

I watch this video about five times a day, as I'm trying to cut back. But I find a new detail I like every time.

Based on the age of the other men in this video, Cat Man is in his mid sixties. That's six decades of living. Wars. Marriages. Puberty. 60 years on earth without the threat of accidentally disguising yourself as a cat and BOOM! You are a cat. Ten years of law school did not prepare you for this. Now, you are known by YouTube's predictive search as "man is cat on Zoom." 

Based on the name card on the Zoom, Cat Man's name is Rod Ponton. Then again, based on his appearance, he is a cat, so I am starting to think that some of the internet may not be real. 

Rod Ponton. It sounds like a character on Parks and Recreation who would get mad at Leslie Knope because a bird at the park wouldn't learn his secret handshake. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice / The Associated Press)
Either way, it's a hell of a name. Rod Ponton. It sounds like a character on Parks and Recreation who would get mad at Leslie Knope because a bird at the park wouldn't learn his secret handshake. 

Another delightful nugget we uncover: Rod Ponton's assistant is there. We're in the middle of a pandemic. Someone is risking their life to help this Rod Ponton do his job. The wheels must keep turning. And despite their sacrifice in the name of capitalism, despite their best efforts, a grown man is still a cat. 

Also, this isn't a family bingo game. This is a live stream of the district court of Texas. Imagine if it was your dream to own a used bookstore. You scratched and you saved up and you made it happen. Against all odds, you succeeded. You made money. You had regulars. You felt like you made a difference. 

Then one night, randomly, someone burned it down. You did nothing wrong. An arsonist wanted to burn something, as arsonists do, and you were the most flammable option within walking distance. 

The good news is that they caught the arsonist. And he's going to pay for what he did to your bookstore. And even though you want to let bygones be bygones, you can't help but tune into the livestream of his court hearing. You want justice. This is your moment. Then, you see your lawyer preparing to prosecute this piece of trash. 

He's whip smart. He's experienced. 

He is trapped in a cat filter and he cannot turn it off. 

The defence lawyer is laughing his head off. The arsonist hasn't been this happy about a non-fire related incident in years. Schrodinger's lawyer rests his case.

The guy in the top right is absolutely texting someone (almost definitely in a giant font) that a man at work is accidentally a cat. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice / The Associated Press)
Back in reality, the reactions of the other two men? Also delightful. The guy in the top right is absolutely texting someone (almost definitely in a giant font) that a man at work is accidentally a cat.

Bottom left guy? Not even phased. 

It's 2021. Of course someone is accidentally a cat. He is out of endorphins. He's got a look on his face like he's already resenting the tuna sandwich he'll make for lunch. 

That said, I've been writing this, I have changed my mind. 

"I'm here live, I'm not a cat" is not the definitive quarantine sentence. 

Wright says, "I'm not hip, I'm a 32-year-old man trapped in a house due to a simultaneous lockdown and blizzard. I have worn track pants so often that putting on jeans feels like wearing a pair of knives." (Ritchie Perez)

The definitive sentence is: "I'm prepared to go forward with it." It is both so funny and so sad.

Of course, a man cannot both be a lawyer and be trapped in a cat filter at the same time. It's obscene. It's ridiculous. It's like being expected to be a productive employee while also being in a pandemic.

I think we often forget that collectively, we're experiencing the worst thing in modern history. We are suffering in so many ways. Exponential sickness and death are in the news every single day. Small businesses are crumbling around us while corporations make billions. We can't even see the bottom quadrant of a stranger's face.

We were tired before this. We're exhausted now. I keep hearing friends being hard on themselves for being unproductive without an acknowledgement that, written or not, every to do list begins with "existential dread". 

I don't know how to remove it. 

I'm prepared to go forward with it. 

I am here live. 

I am not a cat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Wright is a comedian and television writer currently living in the hub of Canadian show business (Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador). Photo by Ritche Perez.

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