Some may consider Garfield, a staple of the funny pages since 1978, to be a relic from an earlier, much lamer era of comedy. To modern-day cynics weaned on Adult Swim and YouTube, the long-running comic strip is merely a tame, tired throwback to those pre-internet days when people were genuinely amused by a fat, orange cat making wisecracks about lasagna and hating Mondays. But Jim Davis’ cartoon creation has made an admirable effort to keep up with the times. There has been a pretty elaborate official Garfield website since the 1990s, for instance, and some say that Davis was offering something called “G-mail” long before even Google wanted that name.
But social media can be a real minefield sometimes, even for internet veterans like Garfield. The overfed tabby learned that the hard way last Friday when he attempted to interact with fans on Twitter via the hashtag #AskGarfield. Since it was National Lasagna Day, the timing should have been perfect.
The trouble was, the official Garfield account is not yet verified by Twitter. Internet troublemaker extraordinaire Joseph “Joey” Clift knew what he had to do: Change his onscreen name to Garfield Official and answer fans’ questions himself.
It was a bold, clever stunt that captured the attention of The Daily Dot and Twitter itself. Once again, a clueless corporate behemoth had been outwitted by a sly amateur. It’s a classic David-and-Goliath story. The temptation here is to refer to Clift as a troll, but that’s an oversimplification. Yes, he hijacked and subverted a Garfield-themed thread on Twitter, but he did so in a way that was remarkably in character and on brand. That crack about drinking his owner’s tears is a little darker than the strip usually goes, but even this unauthorized version of the cat has some limits.
So there it is. Cruelty to humans: acceptable. Cruelty to animals: not acceptable. Garfield has spoken, sort of.