For those who haven't spent countless hours losing themselves to the videos, image galleries, and forever-looping animated GIFs of "Lil Bub," here is why she's known as one of the most adorable kittens on the Internet. Bub was born with several genetic mutations causing dwarfism, polydactylism and a disformed lower jaw. That may sound horrific, but the DNA twists of fate have turned Bub into a cat whose every move demands a thunder of "AWWWWWWWW."
Now, after conquering the Internet, Bub's short form stardom is getting the feature length treatment, in the form of the documentary (and 2013 Tribeca Film Festival premiere) Lil Bub & Friendz. In the first trailer for the movie, we learn of Bub's real origins: she came from outer space!
The movie aims to take a broader look at the phenomenon of online cat videos — arguably a foundation of the mega-successful video sharing site YouTube, and perhaps, all of the Internet — putting Bub at the center and weaving in the stories of other famous cats, including Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, and Keyboard Cat. Interviews in the doc suggest the popularity of cat videos philosophically challenge society. "If we look at human life through a cat's eyes, there's so much of what we do that seems futile," says a voice over images of a thirtysomething dancing with his cat. Bub's owner is frank in how his world was radically changed by the genetically-mutated pet: "Everything in my life was pretty awful, but then it got pretty cool."
As "Meme culture" — the bite size, graphically-enhanced, shots of entertainment and commentary that flood the Internet every minute — becomes more and more prevalent, so will its impact on other forms of entertainment. Looking inward is the first step: Lil Bub & Friendz is one of many net-friendly documentaries, following on the footsteps of Indie Game: The Movie (chronicling a trio of video game developers who built their audiences through the web) and HBO's Me @ the Zoo, a fascinating into the look life of Chris Crocker, star of the "Leave Britney Alone!" viral video.
The true stories behind the stars of the Internet is only the beginning, with adaptations of viral content looking more and more lucrative for Hollywood studios. Few realized that Brett Ratner throwing "I'm the Juggernaut, b**ch!" into his 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand would be such a slippery slope. Now, Hollywood producers are looking to memes and viral content for big screen inspiration. In January, the writer of the sci-fi flick Apollo 18 was hired to adapt James Erwin's story Rome, Sweet Rome, a military time travel epic he penned on the message boards of Reddit. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is also in the meme business — earlier this year, the actor attached himself to a project based on a viral illustration of a teddy bear fighting a nightmare monster. Seriously.
Whether we LOL, OMG, or just ☺ at Lil Bub & Friendz, the meme movie trend only looks to persist. So which Internet-born meme needs the cinematic treatment? And when is Maru going to star alongside Vin Diesel in The Fast & the Fur-ious?
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Danilo Parra]