This week I found a website called “The Worst Cat,” which made me giggle for an hour. The trope is simple: an extended critique of what the author/blogger calls “the worst cat ever” which is obviously a baby hippo. Obvious, that is, to everyone but the author/blogger.
It could be taken as a meta-commentary on criticism itself, succinctly capturing the argument Charles Baxter makes at length in one of my favorite essays. How many reviewers critique a book, movie, television show, etc., on how well it fits into the box they’ve made for it, its ability to measure up to their pre-conceived notions? In Baxter’s terms, you could say the author/blogger here doesn’t engage with the formal properties of a baby hippo; he or she has not contextualized the hippo with mind to its intended audience or purpose.
Or maybe it’s just funny. I dunno.