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We love to watch cute animals. And it’s okay.
The Internet is full of drama. The Internet is full of cute animals. Put them together, and you’ve got dramatic animals. And the latest entrant into this menagerie is the Dramatic Chihuahua.
What makes this video more than just another monetize-your-pet gag is the longevity of its source. Internet memes and viral videos tend to have a shelf life. Does anyone reference “Chocolate Rain” or “Gingers Do Have Souls” any more? No, they do not.
The rare visual trope does live on however. The inspiration for the chihuahua video is Dramatic Chipmunk—actually, a prairie dog featured on a Japanese game show, whose sudden, wide-eyed glance at the camera won him a fame that has lasted for four years.
Uploaded on August 8, Alan Ringvald’s “Dramatic Chihuahua” video is only 6 seconds long and features a chihuahua looking mighty uncomfortable while two towering black dogs sniff him over. A simple video with over 46,000 views.
Ringvald, explaining in an email to the Daily Dot, began his YouTube channel, Sooo Cute It Hurts, for the sole purpose of documenting all the cute animals he runs into. As for the chihuahua, he wrote:
“I was walking around San Francisco when I saw this scrappy chihuahua fearlessly playing with those huge Newfoundland dogs on a side street. I rushed to the scene with my cameraphone and happened to catch that hilarious moment. Once I replayed the footage, I was instantly reminded of the prairie dog video and when I mixed the two together, it totally worked!”
Dramatic Chipmunk—the prairie-dog label never stuck, despite an army of amateur factcheckers—is one of those rare Internet memes with mass appeal: cute animals, a very short video timestamp, and a cliché of a horror-movie sound effect that is easy to incorporate.
Searching YouTube reveals hundreds of incarnations of this meme, still being uploaded regularly. Besides other Dramatic Chihuahuas, there are Dramatic Cats, Owls, Squirrels, Dogs—you name it, YouTube’s got it. (There’s even a Dramatic Lemur who’s actually a tarsier, correctionistas.)
So why do Ringvald and the like keep the drama going? One could argue they’re just going for easy YouTube views. But for the same reason we keep pets around, we like to look at cute animals and interpret their actions as if they were human. That urge to anthropomorphize is so fundamental: As long as the chipmunk keeps looking our way, we won’t be able to turn our eyes away.
Fruzsina Eördögh was the Daily Dot's first YouTube reporter. In addition to working as a producer for the now-defunct digital channel TouchVision TV, Eördögh has been published by Vice, the Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian, Variety, and Slate.