Each Wednesday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.
Not everyone likes cats, but most people like kittens. Some of these people who like kittens listen to a lot of rock and roll. At least one of those people has Photoshop. Hence, The Kitten Covers.
Maybe you’ve stumbled across this tumblr feed of late; it’s been making the rounds. The designer behind The Kitten Covers works solely in the iconic — Bowie, Dylan, The Beatles, The Cure, Prince — all bands and artists with respected careers and catalogs. The cover art that graces the great works of rock and roll history is now repainted in shades of kitty cat — a rock and roll hall of fame with feline stand-ins. There’s not a pic of four cats meandering across Abbey Road yet (unfortunately), but I’m sure it’s on its way.
Clearly, the creator of The Kitten Covers is trying to pay tribute, not lampoon. This is a tongue-in-cheek reimagining of the musical world, like mini-KISS or Dark Side of the Moon played behind The Wizard of Oz (which doesn’t really work, by the way). The Kitten Covers, unlike other Internet fads, is not poking fun at something because it’s laughable or kitschy; it pays homage to it. We’re simply honoring the rock and roll greats through cat-addition.
It’s fascinating to note all of the strange ways people pay homage to the things they love. Posters, t-shirts, bumper stickers, tweets, and status updates all make us willing advertisements for our attachments. In a million little ways, in a million little name- and product-drops, we reveal to the world the things that bring us joy. In the more extreme cases, people get very large, ill-placed tattoos. Adoration is something we long to do for its own sake; it is deep-seated in the human heart.
My high school library had a copy of C. S. Lewis’s Reflection on the Psalms (which was one of the few things I ever enjoyed checking out from there — Steinbeck, ugh!). The ideas Lewis penned there never left me: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” I have never come across a more beautiful and helpful expression of the method and purpose of praise (and worship) than this.
The Kitten Covers is an exercise in natural theology. All of us — imago Dei — are created to express the Creator’s image. Perhaps part of this is our constant desire to express “this is good” concerning the things we “create.” Ironically and beautifully, we are creative creatures and even express this creativity in our praise. We were made to express to God his goodness and glory — the ultimate consummation of the ultimate enjoyment — and to do so in a creative, meaningful, God-imaging way. And even if we don’t realize it, we are indirectly doing this when we praise the goodness of His world and works. If that praise involves kittens and rock and roll, all the better.