If you follow George Takei on Facebook, you’ll know that when he posts something it gets a lot of comments and coverage. It’s been pretty fun to see him grow into an internet sensation, and watching him use that position to spread messages of tolerance and inclusion has been thrilling. The fact is that the internet has this magical ability to bring back d-grade movie stars and wash them in the light of the modern age; it can make someone who was once just “that guy in Star Trek” into “that guy who was in Star Trek who is now all over the internet and T.V.” He has become more famous than ever, thanks to the internet.
He’s known to post all sorts of images and meme-rific items, and I can’t help but wonder if he has an assistant or two who help him keep an eye on the latest trends. It’s also possible that he just trolls around online while keeping an eye out for this stuff. Either way, when he posts something it’s usually lighthearted, occasionally deep, and often sarcastic. Recently he posted a picture of “Grumpy Cat,” the famous cat-with-an-underbite that is known for being, well, grumpy-looking. The truth is that the cat is quite sweet and very tolerant of handling (Hell, one of our cats isn’t even that nice) and is a female cat. The story goes that her owners named the cat “Tard,” short for “Tardar Sauce.” Of course as soon as it came out that the cat’s name was “Tard” people began to wonder why in the Hell they would name the cat Tard, other than the obvious reasons. I can always be wrong, but I remember when the story of the cat’s name came out… after the cat started to become “internet famous” and people immediately called B.S.
What really happened? 1 of 2 things (I think):
1) The story is true, and a child called the cat “Tardar Sauce” after saying that the cat looked like the color of tarTar sauce, that yucky stuff that people dip fishsticks in. The adults in the situation, being adults and knowing full well how “tard” goes down during a conversation, decided that it was cute enough to keep around. So, the cat is named “Tard.” Of course, they could have just corrected the child and called the cat “Tart” or just changed the name entirely, but we’re supposed to believe otherwise. Cute.
2) The story is B.S. The cat was called “Tard” because the parents thought it was a funny thing to call the cat. After, she looked “retarded” and so the name stuck. No big deal… after all, it’s not like the cat was internet-famous. Later, after the name got out they came out with the story about the child naming the cat, the cute misspelling and the fact that they could not simply tell a child “No, it’s not spelled that way and some people might not like that name.”
The problem I have with most of this has nothing to do with the name being offensive. That’s the obvious part. I love it when people try and tell me that these internet-enforced meme-rific names are “just words and the meanings of words change!” but forget to add that they would never called someone the N word or “faggot” or “Faggy fagster” because they decided that the words have no meaning. The fact is that these ARE just words, but some of these words STILL carry weight. Yes, the meaning or words change over time… but some words have not yet changed. Using the excuse that “tard” in this case has no meaning because the cat’s parents simply FORGOT the street meaning of the word is useless… we all know the truth about the word “tard.”
I witnessed “derp” users quickly try and change the meaning of the word, claiming the because it originally came from South Park that using it while making a grunty, “retarded” sound (DeeerrrpppppPPPppP!) means that it does NOT mean “retarded.” I wish people would not insult my intelligence by telling me that the meaning of words change while defending the USE of a word that almost literally changed its meaning overnight. Derp went from an odd little sound from South Park to meaning “ddeeerrrrrrrrp.” We all know this. Quit bullshitting.
If you look at the comments in the Takei post, you’ll see what I mean. There are so many attempts to define the cat’s name that you end up knowing nothing more than you knew before. Some people claimed it came from “Tardis” (yes, I swear) and others claimed that it was from “Tardar Sauce”, the original excuse story. Many others simply told people to stop being “butthurt” (another word that people try to defend, as though it was always used to mean “I’m spanking your bottom” instead of “I just raped you in a shooter match”) and to get over the fact that “retarded” is just a word we use these days.
What all of this means to me is that the internet is the most wonderful, most horrible place in the world. If you are going to live on it (and me and my wife both literally make our living from it) than you need to grow “thick skin.” At the same time, you have to be really good at googling the Hell outta’ stuff, looking out for real meanings and sticking by what you believe in. The internet mixes the young kids and all of their needs to fit in with older people who have no idea that the picture they just shared on Facebook is actually completely fake. The kids use offensive words and generally post whatever they want while the clueless parents occasionally peek into the world of the internet and find that they have no idea what is going on. Two gullible groups working off of each other; a recipe for the spread of ignorance.
I truly believe that the internet will allow people who are not very smart remain that way. Ironic, considering that the internet is an almost endless sea or information. It will also allow those who want to know something to pretty much find out more about that something, and will allow those of us who live on the internet to continue to do so. I also believe that the internet will literally hurt spelling, reading, facts, and original thought. The internet spreads silly ideas and breeds copycats who can easily grab an idea by another person and take credit for it. It is a haven for people who do not care to investigate and who are fine with not caring.
The grumpy cat, whatever her real name is and always was, is a cute meme that has been manipulated and stretched by the rest of the internet. It’s fascinating to watch people do creative things with the image, shocking to see people use such a cute animal to spread messages of hate, and to see people try and explain away the word “tard,” as though they think all words are meaningless and that we should just communicate through a series of grunts and farts.