Hang in there, baby: A picture essay

The internet has been overrun by cat videos and I think I know why.

Earlier this year I participated in a Pecha Kucha to promote the Graphic Advocacy exhibit at Mass Art. To prepare I talked through a few ideas with my friends at work. While listing lots of great protest posters that design nerds loved, we recognized they weren't the most influential posters of pop culture. The masses aren't fighting, we're just trying to get by. This insight led to mining memories of Hallmark cards and K-mart posters and inevitably... cats... and specifically the "Hang in there" kitty.

As I "armchair researched" it from the comfort of my living room I discovered that the "Hang in there" kitty was really a poster meme that began sometime around 1968, right in the middle of civil rights and the Vietnam War. And that cat has been hanging around ever since. Re-imagined in the graphic style of each decade, the kitty has encouraged the 99% through oil crises, Reaganomics, Gen X nihilism, and the mortgage crisis. 

Here's an abridged version of my slides from that night. If I were a betting man, I'd wager an American Apparel version with naughty socks in 2013.