These are proving to be truly sensitive times we are living in, where one wrong thing said - even in jest - can earn someone an intense online backlash. Now that backlash is being extended to an animated character - in this case Garfield the Cat, after the character's social media post about the Midterm Elections stoked fire in fans:
Now, to be fair, there are two ways to read this Instagram post:
- Garfield is taking an approach of hard indifference to major socio-political events like the Midterm Elections - in the same vein as Melania Trump's controversial jacket, worn during the immigration Child Separation Scandal.
- Garfield is being the same Garfield we've all known and loved up to this point, and this is just that character's way of actually inspiring people to vote.
For our money, we're going with the idea of Garfield creator Jim Davis was actually going for the latter with his intent. It could easily be taken as satirical, with the indirect reference to Melania's jacket slogan serving as an ironic inference of how Davis actually feels about the current administration. After all there are some clues that's the case, if you look closely:
- Garfield is making the classic sign for "crazy" as he's saying the "Do I look like I care?" line, suggesting it's a crazy way to view the current elections.
- There's a "#vote" at the end of the post caption. Sure, it could've been added in later, but it's there, nonetheless. So it's hard to argue that this post is somehow dissuading voting.
However, any chance at explanation was pretty quickly drowned out, as Twitter began the backlash campaign against Garfield:
What the fuck is this, Garfield pic.twitter.com/zDvQzlkXPd— Matt D. Wilson (@TheMattDWilson) November 6, 2018
I am glad to report that nearly all the comments are some variation on "GARFIELD HOW COULD YOU???"— Matt D. Wilson (@TheMattDWilson) November 6, 2018
There have been several examples of sarcastic or ironic comments possibly being taken out of context, as the midterm elections have drawn closer. Hilary Clinton got in hot water after an interviewer confused two different politicians of color; and SNL cast member Pete Davidson got in trouble for his seemingly insensitive dismissal of a wounded veteran running in the election, during a recent segment. As stated, as the elections have gotten closer, it seems that a lot of people are extra on edge and sensitive - no doubt as a result of the intense rhetoric that has been thrown around, up and down the campaign trail.
Hopefully ol' Garfield finds his way off the pop-culture hit-list, sooner before later.