Blogs & Comment

Winners & Losers: Grumpy Cat purrs along, Urban Outfitters offends

That's a whole lot of kitty kibble

▲ Grumpy Cat

The world’s crankiest fat cat

Grumpy Cat appears on NBC News' "Today" show

(NBC NewsWire/Getty)

When it comes to getting-rich-quick, people used to dream about winning the lottery. Now it’s more appropriate to dream about owning a bizarrely cute animal to exploit over the Internet. Reports surfaced this week that Grumpy Cat, whose underbite shapes her face into a permanent yet adorable scowl, has pulled in more than $100 million since ascending to viral fame two years ago. Grumpy Cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen, said the reports are “completely inaccurate” and declined to comment on financial details. But we can surmise that Grumpy Cat makes a lot of money. Bundesen was able to quit her job as a server at Red Lobster just days after her cat’s picture was first uploaded to Reddit, and said “the phone simply hasn’t stopped ringing since.” Indeed, the list of Grumpy Cat’s accomplishments fills us with shame over our squandered lives: She starred in a holiday-themed Lifetime movie; authored a bestseller; scored a sponsorship deal with Friskies; and appeared at the MTV Movie Awards. Grumpy Cat has millions of followers on Facebook, and half a million on Instagram. Grumpy Cat also has an agent, of course. That agent, Ben Lashes, let slip earlier this year that the feline had generated nine figures in revenue, suggesting the recent reports are not far off the mark, and proving that the monetization of Internet memes is a legitimate, if confounding, business. This news might have you regretting your choice of pet right now, which is probably average-looking and provides you only with unconditional love. You can’t buy anything with that. >:(

▼ Urban Outfitters

It’s our party we can do what we want

An Urban Outfitters location in San Francisco

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News)

The holiday season brings tidings of comfort and joy, and apparently for Urban Outfitters, a burning desire for cultural appropriation. To announce its staff holiday party this year, the retailer sent out an internal flyer to employees instructing them to “break out” their “juttis, kurtas, turbans, saris, lehenga cholis and harem pants,” referring to apparel worn in South Asia. (Maybe the harem pants are just a tribute to MC Hammer? Having grown up in the early ’90s, we can also attest to the billowy freedom they provide.) Two employees were reportedly offended enough to separately leak the flyer to Gawker. It’s possible that Urban Outfitters has a perfectly acceptable reason for encouraging its employees to dress up in South Asian clothing as if it were all some hilarious costume, such as…um…but the company did not respond to Gawker’s request for comment. Urban Outfitters has a history of provoking controversy. In September, it was forced to apologize for selling a Kent State sweatshirt adorned with blood stains. The Navajo Nation sued the company in 2012 over trademark violations for selling items such as the Navajo Hipster Panty. That was the same year Urban Outfitters pulled St. Patrick’s Day-themed clothing that carried derogatory messages like “Irish I Were Drunk.” All of this may stem from the fact that a couple of years ago, Urban Outfitters fretted it had become “too vanilla” and “lost a little bit of its edginess.” But consumers might be getting tired of the antics: Same store sales fell by 7% in the last quarter. “I am disappointed by the results at the Urban Outfitters brand,” said CEO Richard Hayne when the finances were released. So are we, Rich. So are we.

MORE: If the office holiday party is dinner and dancing you’re doing it wrong »