"Sounds so soulful, don't you agree?" they ask, in reference to the late, great Mr. Otis Redding, who had no trouble expressing genuine tenderness. These two artists reached back into the past -- the ancient past, the 1960s -- to bring forth an example of unabashed emotional artistry. This in the midst of a song deconstructing modern hip-hop, and of a video deconstructing a Maybach.
Poodle Bitch will let you, the reader, come up with your own examples (here are a few -- posts on the television program "Up All Night," the upcoming "Muppets" film, and the "Toy Story" films -- to get you started). For right now, she wants to illustrate the cumulative deleterious effect this all-pervasive ironic detachment has had on relations between humans and animals. Last week, the gentlemen who created the Awkward Family Photos website (which is dedicated to cataloging the myriad ways in which human beings are losing the ability to express familial piety) released a new bound collection of Awkward Family Pet Photos. This book is full of images of human beings posing with the pets they purport to love. Some samples:
These are companions as props, for the aggrandizement of the humans depicted within. These images are not whimsical. There is nothing humorous about them. They represent a humanity that is losing touch with itself -- an entire species that has been capable of the greatest of emotions losing the ability to communicate those emotions. Poodle Bitch notes that none of these images is spontaneous; the humans involved carefully thought out how they wanted to be depicted alongside their canine companions, and willingly posed in the manner depicted above, while forcing their companions to join in what is in fact a dual humiliation. In the case of the alien abduction themed photo, Poodle Bitch assumes the humans scrolled through the photographer's available backdrops (or, worse, called around to see which photographers had such a backdrop) and found the one that they thought best represented them and the relationship that they have with their nonhuman companion. Poodle Bitch notes the abduction motif is in fact appropriate, although not for the reasons the humans might imagine.
These humans might actually love their inhuman companions; but they are clearly unable to express this affection without first cloaking it in some bizarre, protective veneer.
The most extreme expression of this companions-as-props attitude can be found in this alarming photo:
If Poodle Bitch were slightly more cynical, she might note that the above photo is perhaps the only honest one of the bunch. Here the humans are literally equating their companion animal -- in this case, a bird -- with a tool. A gun. Poodle Bitch wonders which item the humans in that photo find the most important?
Just as the humans depicted in the photos above seem incapable of feeling shame, Poodle Bitch notes that animals are incapable of irony. Their devotion to their human companions is as sincere as it is total, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the story of Duncan, the three year-old Boxer who rescued his human companion from a housefire, and died in the process.
[Human companion Scott] Dunn was asleep Monday night, when he woke at about three in the morning to find smoke "down to the floor" in his home.
It was Duncan, a three-year-old boxer, who woke him in time. "He was just pawing at me. I thought he was trying to go out," recalled Dunn.
Dunn says he grabbed his keys and Duncan by his collar as he attempted to leave the house to get to his car. "The minute I opened the door, it was like the house exploded," said Dunn. "The flames went from one end of the house to the other."
In the confusion Dunn didn't realize that Duncan hadn't made it out of the house.
Poodle Bitch does not have the words to express herself. She is heartbroken over the loss of the heroic, selfless Duncan. She does note that there is nothing "awkward" about the photo below: