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People's choice for 'Best Cat Video' is French, existential


It's not Keyboard Cat, Nyan Cat, those two cats playing pattycake or even famous box-diving cat from Japan, Maru. As far as the people are concerned, or at least the "People's Choice" award for the Walker Art Center's first annual Internet Cat Video Festival in Minneapolis, it's Henri, as he appears with all his existential feline angst in "Henri 2, Paw de Deux."

"I alone feel this torment," laments the fluffy black and white cat, in Pimsleur French (with English subtitles), in a film that is appropriately also in black and white. "The white idiot writhes on his chair, begging for cheeseburgers," Henri says of his sole kitty companion in a human's world. "I'm surrounded by morons."

For about a month, the entire Internet had the opportunity to watch scads of cat videos — like you always do. And yet, "Henri 2, Paw de Deux" is the winner — rather than the critically acclaimed, and objectively far superior, "Henri 3, Le Vet."

If you find this "Peoples Choice" unexpected — for whatever reason — you (unlike Henri) are not alone.

"This video poses a challenge to some of the more established genres seen amongst the finalists," says Paddy Johnson, a well-known art blogger and my go-to source when it comes to cats, art and the Internet. (See her salient commentary on the "Orvillecopter" — a four-propellered remote-controlled dead cat assembled by Dutch artist Bart Jansen).

"It's not a typical cat-acts-like-a-dog video, and even slyly references the more common Cheezeburger cat," Johnson told me. "For this reason, the YouTube matches the Walker, which, like other museums, trumpets art that challenges conventions and genres."

"All that said, I actually prefer status quo cats, so I'm a little disappointed."

As, no doubt, is Henri — with his very existance.

If you want to waste the rest of your day watching cat videos — like you weren't anyway — check out all 79 cat videos that were part of the Walker Art Center's Internet Cat Video Festival ... and it's never too soon to start thinking about which kitty deserves your vote next year.

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet. Join her, won't you on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, Google+.   

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