Sunday 31 August 2014

Hello Kitty crisis: The cat is not a lie

I’m okay. Really. Thank you for your concern.

No, you don’t need to do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for my benefit.

Unlike the rest of the world it seems, I didn’t have an existential crisis last week when news spread that Hello Kitty is not a cat. (It’s an Avril Lavigne song.)

But I understand why you might have thought I would be in a catatonic state by now.

Yes, I have the complete collection of Hello Kitty Bubbly World toys that McDonald’s released two months ago.

And I didn’t pre-order them online because that would be cheating. I bought them one by one at a McDonald’s restaurant over six weeks like a real man.

Yes, I took selfies with each of the toys and posted them on Instagram.

But I had difficulty taking a group selfie with all six Hello Kitties, so I ordered a selfie stick from Qoo10. Problem solved.

Best invention ever.

Yes, I had quick enough cat-like reflexes to pre-register for the 5km Hello Kitty Run to be held on Nov 1 to mark Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday before all 15,000 slots were lapped up last week.

I save all of five bucks by pre-registering. Now I need to pay only $65 to join the run, instead of $70 like pathetic regular folks.

That makes me feel special. Like I’m riding in my own chartered MRT train to see the upcoming Leo Sayer concert at the Esplanade on Oct 18. He makes me feel like dancing.

I have been a long-time fan of the afro-wearing British singer, something I can’t say for Hello Kitty.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I’m actually not a Hello Kitty fan.

So what’s with all the Hello Kitty toys and selfies?

Well, like wearing polo shirts when I don’t play polo, I like Hello Kitty ironically.

As radio DJ Chris Ho explained after his “kill the Singaporeans but not my friends” Facebook comment was criticised a few months ago, it’s satire.

What that means is that I find the obsession with Hello Kitty bemusing and amusing. To make fun of this cultural quirk, I’m pretending to be a creepy 48-year-old guy with a Hello Kitty fetish.

I repeat, “pretending”.

As it turned out, I’m not alone in my mockery.

Take, for instance, this mock-serious news headline: “Hello Kitty is not a cat. Everything is a lie.”

Over-dramatic much?

That’s from The Washington Post, the US newspaper that uncovered the truth about the Watergate break-in and brought down an American president over 40 years ago.

Now the paper has uncovered the truth about Hello Kitty that will bring down all of reality.

Can you uncover the sarcasm?

How many of us really believe that the world is ending because Hello Kitty is not a cat? Or are we just playing along like me with my Hello Kitty selfies?

You know who HDB should debark?

Anyone making any more “If Hello Kitty is not a cat, then Scooby Doo (or Goofy or Snoopy or any other canine cartoon) is not a dog” jokes.

As it turned out, it was all just a big misunderstanding.

Someone said that Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, said that Hello Kitty is not a cat.

To quote:
“She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat.”
The Internet went ape. Suddenly, my wife had good reason to be jealous of me sleeping with my Hello Kitties, even ironically.

Someone else then called Sanrio to confirm the species of my McDonald’s toys.

Sanrio replied:
“Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat. It’s going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat. Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat.”
Since Sanrio is a Japanese company, I suspect something must have been lost in the translation.

But I get it.

Saying Hello Kitty is a cat is akin to me taking the news headline “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrive in Singapore” literally last week.

I was about to rush out to get the celebrity mega-couple to autograph my Blu-Ray copies of 12 Monkeys and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but was crushed to learn that the newly-wed Brangelina aren’t really in Singapore.

They are just waxwork figures of the movie stars that are here ahead of the opening of Madame Tussauds Singapore in October.

The headline was a cruel lie.

But then there are lies everywhere.

The Singapore Flyer doesn’t really fly. It just goes round and round. No wonder it went bankrupt and had to be sold.

The Singapore Grand Prix is not really that grand. It’s just cars going round and round. It’s coming back next month.

Singapore the Lion City is a lie because lions aren’t indigenous to this area and Fandi Ahmad’s LionsXII don’t count, especially in the Malaysia Cup tournament.

Oh no, now I’m starting to have an existential crisis.

Where are my Hello Kitties? They always make me feel better.

Ironically, of course.

- Published in The New Paper, 31 August 2014