Amongst some of the latest news to hit the scene is a factoid: Hello Kitty is not a cat! This might be a little hard to believe but for better or worse it is true.
The trend of the Hello Kitty cool and cute feline began sometime in the mid-70s. And it caught on in such a big time way that soon enough the objects of desire that featured the symbol included:
- innumerable children’s toys,
- car fluid containers,
- tissue papers and
- male briefs.
The kitty has even provoked punkette rocker and songstress, Avril Lavigne to make a music video related to the phenomenon that has taken the world by storm.
Of all the people, Lady Gaga, that super-creative wonder woman donned an ensemble based on the Japanese cat. And now preparations are underway to feature paraphernalia linked with the iconic cartoon logo in a Japanese American museum.
The question why this particular cultural artifact has survived for nearly half a century is beyond the understanding of some people.
Yet go deeper and you will find that it is the lack of its labial expression that has fascinated the denizens of the global village.
Hello Kitty can fit anywhere in the ten thousand physical sites around the world since it is both cute and portrays the height of a cool and innocent attitude.
There are a few factoids that will fascinate the reader regarding this creation of mass culture. Firstly, it is not exactly a cat. No.
It is an anthropomorphic symbol of a girl with feline features but it is definitely not a quadruped member of the feline family. The story behind the character is that she is an English born and bred visual motif.
According to LATimes, "Christine R. Yano is an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii (and currently a visiting professor at Harvard) who has spent years studying the phenomenon that is Hello Kitty. She is also the author of the book "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific," published by Duke University Press last year. She says that Kitty's unreadable features (she usually doesn't have a mouth), along with clever merchandising, has helped cultivate the character's following."
"Hello Kitty works and is successful partly because of the blankness of her design," Yano says. "People see the possibility of a range of expressions. You can give her a guitar, you can put her on stage, you can portray her as is. That blankness gives her an appeal to so many types of people."
"She doesn't have this insipid cuteness," explain Yano, who is also serving as curator for the Japanese American National Museum's retrospective. "It's something clever and creative which contributes to a certain cool factor. For example, take Precious Moments [giftware]. That's cute. But there's nothing cool about Precious Moments. Hello Kitty has the potential to be so many other things."
The whole shebang emerged from obscurity in the 70s when most Japanese females were obsessed with England and Brit culture. Beyond this, Hello Kitty is a special favorite of that ideal community of hard workers in the United States: Asian Americans.
They in particular have had a deep bonding with the cartoon figure and they love it till the point of madness. Whether it is Chinatowns or Japanese strongholds in the States, Hello Kitty will be omnipresent and nothing can forestall its tsunami-like influence.