Salon has a sublime ode to the "I can haz cheezburger" crowd:
By now, even the most casual observers of the Internet are aware that lolcats have become a certifiable Internet phenomenon. Their flagship site, Icanhascheezburger.com, is one of Web 2.0's big success stories -- on track to top a billion page views this year -- and its content is entirely user-generated. Readers upload over 5,000 homegrown submissions every day, of which six or eight are posted on the site. And in October, the lolcats got their very own coffee table book, "I Can Has Cheezburger," published by Gotham Books.
What makes lolcats different from the cat porn of the past -- the motivational posters of the '70s and '80s featuring furry kittens hanging from tree limbs, covered in toilet paper or in some other kind of adorable predicament -- is that lolcats aren't trying to be cute. In the cat-based imagery of ages past, cats retain their iconic traits: curiosity, skittishness, the tendency to curl up in a ball and just lie there. Even the YouTube cats of today perform characteristically catlike actions, repeatedly flushing toilets, dragging their paws along piano keys or getting flung off the ends of treadmills.
Lolcats are different in that the characters they portray -- and yes, they are portraying characters -- don't represent cats at all. They're a completely different kind of beast, mischievous (if incompetent) rascals, scheming for cheeseburgers and stopping at nothing to get them.
Take the lolcat that started it all, created by a Hawaiian blogger named Eric Nakagawa, who posted it in January 2007. The image features a cat with a crazed look of pure animal hunger, its eyes maniacal with desire, asking, "I can has cheezburger?" Underneath is the comment: "The Internet's piece de resistance, the website's raison d'etre."
This ur-lolcat created such a sensation that Nakagawa turned it into a blog, spawning not only the eponymous Web site but also a whole mythology. The cheezburger has become the Philosopher's Stone of the lolcats mythos -- the most prized, cherished and elusive object in their universe. It is for this reason that, when a tiny kitten being sniffed by a Great Dane 20 times its size needs a quick escape, it says, "I iz not cheezburger, kthxbai." It is for this reason that when a user finds a photo of a cat sitting by the window with its paws in its lap, the caption reads, "I iz waitin for cheezburger man. Does you have a money?"
The Web is now spawning a wave of next-generation lolcats sites that take the lolcats concept and run with it. There's lolpresident, loldogs, and even lolhan, a site devoted to Lindsay Lohan that includes such classics as "I layded you an egg but I'z hidin it."
On that note, I turn in to see y'all in the morning.