Fighting like cats and gangsters: the feline frenzy over Love/Hate

Just when you thought Ireland was slowly shedding its out-dated image of paddywhackery and backwards beliefs, the country spirals into turmoil over the shooting of a fictional cat. Of course, the aforementioned cat is the poor kitty from ‘Love/Hate’ fame that reached the end of its nine lives two weeks ago.

The controversial scene from the popular crime drama sparked not only a frenzy of complaints from wholesome Irish viewers (watching the gritty gangsters’ dealings nonetheless) but also animal rights groups that lambasted the gruesome realism of the animal cruelty depicted, in a television show that has previously been ‘praised’ for introducing home-grown, realistic, gritty programming to our screens. And then, in what has possibly been RTE’s most cringeworthy move, the cat itself (a lovely moggy named Cleo) actually appeared on The Late Late Show mere days after, causing a flurry of facepalms to be heard all around the country.

If that strange, strongly pro-feline weekend taught us anything, it was either Ireland’s warped perception on the value of life is worse than we all imagined, or we have a lot more cat-lovers on our shores than we thought. It was also a reminder of the general naivety and innocence of a nation that would rather tune into a critically acclaimed series (perhaps the first we have ever had) and formally complain rather than change the channel.

DSPCA spokesperson Kathy Norton did not defend the reaction: “The only real reason I think animal rights groups are up in arms about it is because youth subcultures exist in Dublin that are capable of doing something like that to an animal. We’re a very impressionable nation.”

But there are far more adjectives than ‘impressionable’ that could describe the nonchalant attitude of the Irish public in the face of staggering social problems. We all know an average Joe Soap who would say ‘sure isn’t it good enough for them? It’s their own fault.’ Moral of the story is, you can be as ruthless and unforgiving as you want with the decisions of humans, but God forbid you kill a fictitious cat.

The American Sociological Association concluded in August that people have more empathy for battered dogs than human adults, with many of us agreeing there is something extra heinous in harming animals or children as they cannot fend for themselves. It’s understandable, and many people relate, but has the line finally crossed that nothing disturbing in this way can be handled by writers of TV shows?

Frankly, with the reputation of Love/Hate in the past, including storylines on rape, prostitution, drug overdoses and graphic cold-blooded murder, has it really come to a shot cat becoming the last straw? Maybe it’s simply something to do with cats in particular, lest we forget aul Mary Bane dumping Lola the cat in a wheelie bin in 2010.

Cal McGhee

Image Credit: CreativeCommons

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