Your Meme-age Dream: Talking to Animated Text
By Ellie Brzezenski
They say you should never meet your heroes. Luckily, they never said anything about emailing them.
Cat Frazier is the humor and personality behind ITS Animated Text, your new favorite Instagram account (if it wasn't already). Cat's posts combine humor and pop-culture with a heavy dose of Microsoft Word and
a sprinkling of stock photography.
Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my obsession; if my only lasting legacy is introducing my social circle to her content, I can die happy. Cat is doing something no one else is doing, or at least not as well. She's the meme-queen of the internet, without making herself a glorified influencer.
She comments on current events without copying & pasting tweets from other people's Twitter (ugh - be original!). Her posts contain the existential dread, sexual fluidity and nostalgia that's very Millennial and leaves me laughing out loud. I got to speak with Cat through email to fan girl from afar and learn about
the woman behind the memes.
XCC: First of all, hi! Can you tell us a little bit about how Animated Text came to be?
CF: I started this project in 2012 because of my passion for internet history and word play. Language has always been funny to me and I think these dad jokes really exemplify it. I started Animated Text as a gif blog on Tumblr and slowly started adding images and music to the videos for Facebook.
XCC: Though your name is listed on your Instagram, your identity pretty much flies under the radar (unlike say, The Fat Jewish or FuckJerry). What’s your story? Do you ever get recognized/called out and if so, where?
CF: I’m not really ever recognized. The only place people seem to know who I am are parties where there are other other content creators from the internet. Since doing a New York Times article, someone wrote a wikipedia page about me that blatantly says “Cat Frazier is a queer black blogger” so that kind of helps define who I am too.
XCC: What’s your creative process? Walk us through ideation to posting.
CF: Many of my jokes are combinations of slang from the internet, random anxieties I have about things, and pieces of conversation I hear. More often than not, a phrase like “Relationships are hard but baked potatoes are the shit” is a result of me thinking about what’s difficult in my life and an absurd obsession with something as irrelevant as a baked potato. Then I sit and think, if this rhymed it would be 100x funnier. That’s where “Whether I’m feeling hashtag blessed or hashtag stressed I’m always looking my hashtag best.” comes from.
XCC: I’ve noticed many of your posts talk about Satan, God and religion. Is this pulled from your own background?
CF: I was raised a very strict Christian. Until the age of 10 I went to church 4 times a week. Most of my life was either bible study, worship hours, or watching gospel on TV. I was baptized Mormon when I was 12, and left the church when I was 13 after I realized that being a lesbian and a christian just wasn’t working out. Most of the issues I had in life, my family linked back to me disobeying god or letting satan in. My tooth hurt? Satan. My head hurt? Pray more. Scared of the dark? Read this passage about how god is always with you while you sit in a dark room. A lot of my jokes focus on revealing the absurdity in religious thoughts. I have nothing against believing in Satan or Jesus. But I think if they’re real, Jesus is probably a bottom. And if you summon Satan, he’s probably into The Chainsmokers.
XCC:What are your favorite themes/topics to use in your work?
CF: Anything related to being gay, focusing on your grades, eating ass, or looking your best. Those are all political issues close to my heart.
XCC: Clearly, memes are hot. Why do you think your work in particular is so engaging and popular?
CF: The fact that I make videos is pretty different and I like to push the envelope. I also have this bright and colorful aesthetic that people probably don’t see very often among the vast twitter text over still image memes. I’m also aggressively absurd and maybe help people push the boundaries on what is funny. Plus it’s nice to be able to tag your friend in a video about being thicc with an old white dude in hiking gear.
XCC: I saw on FB you recently asked your followers for submissions (I was one of them!) and the comments were wild. How quickly has your fan base grown and what are your most common comments/messages?
CF: My fan base has grown so fast on Facebook and my followers tend to get my humor pretty quickly. I’m starting to get more word play requests that are closer to my tone. Like “Head? No Thanks. The only head I’m interested in is getting ahead on bible study.” I get requested about topics that I’ve already done before. Tons of things about crocs and being thicc.
XCC: I love your IG bio: ‘"dad jokes" if your dad was a black lesbian’– from following you for a while you seems to have a very distinct voice and style (which your followers love to emulate). How did this Animated Text-persona develop?
CF: It started with me asking people for requests and realizing that people don’t mind if you push the envelope and talk about things that aren’t so light hearted. I’ve gotten less afraid about talking about something as serious as depression and religion in the same context as something not so serious, like cheese or getting your nipples pierced.
I’m starting to lean towards a very narcissistic and absurd tone over self deprecating. Facebook has done that to me. I notice people on Facebook are way more likely to share and relate to something that makes them feel confident in their bad behavior. While my audience on Tumblr can handle spinning text gifs that just say “dead inside” or “piece of shit.”
XCC: Do you have a background in graphic design or animation?
CF: My background is in graphic design and critical thinking. A lot of studying cultural studies, art history, and learning how to use Photoshop.
XCC: When you’re not animating text, what do you do?
CF: I’m either at the beach with my two dogs or at a bar with friends.
XCC: Can you give us examples of posts/ideas that didn’t make the cut?
"emotionally unstable but wifi enabled"
"I peaked at 5 years old"
"Solar power is okay. But have you ever used your anxiety to power your car?"
"Having it your way means getting a blowjob in the burger King parking lot"
XCC: Is there a topic you won’t touch? If so, what?
CF: Yeah. Anything justifying Hitler. I get so many “edgy” Hitler jokes that just aren’t funny.
Anything justifying violence against a group of people that isn’t funny or critical. Anything too self harmy that isn’t funny. If it’s edgy for the sake of shock value and doesn’t make me laugh I won’t make it. Waste of data.
XCC: I saw you sell merch on your site (I just bought some stickers), where do you see the future of Animated Text going? I hope only to bigger (and more wearable) things!
CF: Yeah I see the future of animatedtext being more of a defined community. I love the community tab of my Facebook because I see people submit videos and photos wearing the mearch or playing my videos at parties. My ideal world is one where everyone can joke about their problems and find humor in things that are either taboo or mundane.
XCC: Which Animated Text posts are your favorite?
XCC: Do you have a personal matra?
CF: Lol nothing matters is a mantra I live by. It doesn’t negate the meaningfulness of life but it does remind you that in 200 years it won't matter if he didn’t text you back or you wore the same pants twice.
XCC: Last question, are you secretly a guerilla marketing campaign by Microsoft Word?
Big thanks to Cat for her honest, thoughful answers! Check out more of her work at @itsanimatedtext