I’m going to attempt to write this piece without using “in my day…”. I grew …
Women (and some men) the world over may have been truly shocked and confused after hearing the news that Hello Kitty, the beloved character from Sanrio, was never really a kitty to begin with.
As reported by the LA Times article, Sanrio informed Christine R. Yano, anthropologist from the University of Hawaii (ironic, being that Hawaii has the highest per-cap Japanese/American population in the US), who studied the Hello Kitty phenomenon for her book “Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific”, as she was preparing her talk at the upcoming Hello Kitty Convention, happening in L.A. this October:
Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature.
What’s more, listed in the Sanriotown website, this mischievous little girl’s back story is as follows:
Hello Kitty is a cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold. She lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy. Hello Kitty loves to bake and she can make really delicious cookies. She learned her baking talents from her mama, who makes scrumptious apple pies that are enjoyed by the whole family.
Yano, in the LA Times article was also informed by Sanrio that Kitty is a “perpetual third-grader” and the reason for her distinctive “no-mouth” design was as follows:
“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.”
So essentially, Hello Kitty is a 40 year old 3rd grader. It’s like when everyone in London celebrates Guy Fawkes Day by wearing that weird mask, which, if you think about it, kinda does parallel. Two Brits, wearing masks, believed to be one thing, when they’re actually another. We here in the States think Brits wear the Guy Fawkes mask because he was a hero, rather than the truth, which was he was made the escape goat for the Gun Powder Plot (a conspiracy to kill King James I and Parliament in 1605)… most folks also don’t know an effigy of him is burned at the stake during the event either.
In other words, none of us really knew them.
Ultimately, what we don’t realize is that the entire Hello Kitty family (mom dad, sister, etc) are represented as kittens as an animal association of what a British family is like, or was like in the eyes of Yuko Shimizu, Hello Kitty’s creator 40 some-odd years ago. Sounds like something out of a Walter Potter taxidermy collection. If you don’t get what I’m saying, below is an image of one of his works called “Cat Wedding”. Click on the image to head to his museum. Cute, but creepy when you find out how it was done.
Although Twitter has been abuzz with this latest news, more on the humorous side, it’s the adult women, who had grown up with this character for 30+ years that are the most stunned. As of late, Hello Kitty’s blank expression has become it’s asset in character mash-ups that only Mattel’s Barbie could ever dream of.
Game of Thrones
The whole thing has become a subculture, and in a way, makes the overall stunning admission from Sanrio easier for folks to take… and gives grammatical mistakes a whole new meaning.