Because of the Internet: Cult Day's Saba Moeel and the Rise of Pink Cat
Written by Chinwe Oniah
The internet loves cats. It’s one of the most searched keywords in the world. Social media accounts that feature cats have millions of followers. Videos featuring cats doing anything can rack up a gang of views in just a few hours, but this obsession is not new. Since the times of ancient Egypt cats were held and worshipped as gods.
Saba Moeel realized this and ran with it. In 2014 she created the comic series Pink Cat, a reimagining of a comic she came up with in college. The self-styled “godhead head of the internet, digital caliphate and ethereal warlord” is a bit like Loretta Modern from the Disney Channel movie Pixel Perfect; a composite personality made up of memes, viral tweets, anime; ephemeral cultural moments.
“We live[d] in a time where the Disney mouse reigned supreme but that time has ended,” she laughs, “Mice are definitely white supremacy and cats are not.”
Pink Cat is really popular. She has over 20,000 Instagram followers and a merch line that’s in high demand. Unlike Loretta Modern, Pink Cat isn’t just a parrot of what is on social media, she’s a social commentator. She holds a trove of ephemeral cultural moments, cuts the chaser and serves it up neat. Her posts are funny, but provocative. She’s a singular entity, with tens of thousands of social media followers tangentially molding her; Pink Cat is a little bit of everyone.
“I like letting everyone else influence it too,” she says. “I feel like she’s like big robot and I’m, like, kind of controlling behind her eyes, but there’s so many people working, [too].”
Saba Moeel was born in Shiraz, Iran and moved to the United States when she was four years old. Raised in a strict culturally Muslim immigrant household, the saccharine bubblegum pop of the 1980s and the magic of cartoons is where is found her escape. Even now as a mother to a toddler, she still eats cereal while watching Saturday morning cartoons.
“I loved Disneyland [as a kid]. I still am fascinated by it. I loved Egyptian stuff as a kid. I painted hieroglyphics on my wall. I loved anything like that, magical stuff.”
The magical themes from movies like The Neverending Story and Labyrinth are more than just stuck in her head; they are the foundation for who Saba is. The Disney universe taught her possibilities are endless.
“I just don’t think of the limitations. I’m more – I feel like I see the possibility in the future so it’s like why would I do that?” she says, “It’s just my orientation. It’s just how it’s been.”
She’s known as Cult Days, the moniker under which she produces her art, music and the vehicle that pushes her unconventional ideas like transhumanism (being an immortal human and robot) and the metaphysical bounds of the human mind.
“I think through meditating I realize the capability of the human mind to create scenarios that aren’t necessarily rooted in the agreed upon reality,” she says, “it’s like you take the ideas in your head, you put them on the internet, other people start thinking about them, too, and then it becomes real. If it’s a good idea, it’s gonna go viral in whatever way that means.”
She believes the internet is a real place, “the spirit realm” where we communicate “telepathically through crystal interfaces [our phones].” We exchange ideas, debate theories; share stories and create moments; we build communities, find our tribes; we build personas. The internet is infinite and messages spread fast. “It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you find something viral, it’s going to become reality.”
Her dreams for the future are outrageous and maybe naive, but they’re inspiring. She believes that world peace can be achieved on the Internet, even in 2019, at a point when world destruction seems imminent. But why not, though? It’s a lawless place, but the internet has leveled the playing ground so that outrageous ideas can happen. Aren’t we just living in the Matrix anyway?
All her life, Saba believed she could be ‘The One.’ She says, the movies and TV shows she watched as a kid pushed a “propaganda” that’s she’s the one who can change the world, and she’s believed this ever since. Saba knows her ideas are unconventional, and she admits not seeing limitations is sometimes not good or practical. “Am I gonna like defy that and think of a new story? If it’s all in my head, it’s all in my head. Even if it doesn’t happen, I want that goal to drive me in everything that I do.”
Saba wants to turn Pink Cat into a Cartoon Network show, bigger merch, maybe have a physical location for her. For right now, she’s fun for Saba and what she spends a lot of her time on. It’s easy to see why; a cartoon allows her to be subversive and be different kinds of people. She’s a bunch of stuff — she’s an IG honey, she’s a meme, she’s your fave, she’s a manifestation of culture.
“I don’t know how people will feel about that statement,” Saba says, “[but] we need to right now accept that black culture is dominant in the United States culturally,” Saba says. “Pink Cat is black.”
Not many, if any, would know that from just looking her, but it’s biting social commentary on Saba’s part; a break in the Matrix. The woozy otherworldly reality she wants is still rooted by the tangible experience of black people.
“They have huge influence and that is very scary to white people, so they go through hoops and all this crazy stuff to try to somehow fence that in. It’s like, dude, what are you doing? So Pink Cat wants to blow those gates open.”
Saba says Pink Cat holds other identities, too. Some of Pink Cat’s influence are Garfield, Insecure, Neo Yokio, the film noir aesthetic of Sin City, her friends, and a host of others. The beauty is that these identities are present in this one cartoon with their own function. World peace, a world full of Pink Cats is still a plausible reality in Saba’s head. But to get to that point Saba, through Pink Cat, lays out the challenge we must get through. We can get there, but we gotta be real about who we are first.