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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Warning: This is a story about online cat videos. If you’re among the seemingly tiny minority of the general population not interested in watching a 1-minute clip of a cat in a T-shirt pounding on a keyboard, then move along.
For everyone else, a new measure of respectability is looming for an Internet pleasure that is both massively popular and, for some people, a bit embarrassing. The Walker Art Center, a well-regarded museum of modern art in Minneapolis, on Thursday is presenting its first “Internet Cat Video Film Festival” to showcase the best in filmed feline hijinks.
With about 70 videos over 60 minutes, the Walker is mounting a social experiment as much as a film festival. At issue is whether cat video lovers used to gorging on the clips in the privacy of their homes will do so in public — an online community of fellow aficionados interacting face to face for the first time.
“It is a cultural phenomenon that raises some interesting questions,” said Katie Hill, the Walker program associate who first suggested the festival.
But Hill, a self-described “art historian and cat lady,” was quick to add: “I’m not a behavioral psychologist, I’m not a sociologist. I just think they’re funny and cute, and I think a lot of other people do too.”
The numbers bear it out. Some of the classics of the form have racked up tens of millions of YouTube page views. The aforementioned “Keyboard Cat” posted 26.3 million page views since it was posted in 2007. A 30-second clip titled “Very Angry Cat” — can you guess the plot? — has 78.5 million page views since 2006.