It is going to be difficult to say anything negative about Simon Tofield‘s animated shorts, Simon’s Cat. For starters, they’re cute and inoffensive sketches about a guy’s cat. Small children will likely watch these and giggle, as will folks who like adorable kitties, as will 71 million viewers on YouTube, as will the entire feline-obsessed internet, except for me.
As it happens, Simon’s Cat‘s inoffensiveness is also its greatest drawback. Almost nothing of substantial interest happens in any of the sketches. Once the novelty wears off, the lack of substance is glaring. It doesn’t take a huge intellectual leap to recognize that Tofield’s anthropomorphized cat exists on an animated branch of the lolcat evolutionary tree. I suppose if you can haz a cheezburger multiple times a day, then this is something you might enjoy.
To be fair to Tofield, I don’t think he ever intended for these videos to make any sort of artistic statement or have any meaning beyond that of a fun piece of online video ephemera. According to his site, he wanted to teach himself Flash and one of his cats provided a perfectly good muse. Thus, the web series was born.
From a business perspective, producing Simon’s Cat was a shrewd move by Tofield. The minute-long videos are as mindlessly simple as any lolcat with the added bonus of actually moving. The guy also has a book out, a fully loaded paraphernalia shop, and the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commissioned him for a short film on pet obesity. On the whole, however, this series is more like Garfield than Calvin & Hobbes, and I’d prefer an animated version of the latter any day.