Something has been troubling us lately. No, not the unending stream of indecency, not the sexy chickens, deranged cows, and soulless pigs. No, we've been wondering whether we might be reading too much into the images we discuss.
Take the Matt's Catfish and Steakhouse catfish. When we look on him, we see the same old dreck: an animal who is inviting us—all of us—to eat him.
Fin extended, he waves us on. This way, this way! This way to succulently dead fish!
His giant, gaping smile is the standard death-loving rictus of suicidefood. If we've seen it hundreds of times, we've seen it thousands of times.
He jiggles with excitement. He sweats happily, contemplating the moment when he and his consumer will consummate their relationship. By which he means the moment when he will surpass mere death and move onto the holiest of holies: inert object.
Are we only seeing what we "want" to see?
Recontextualized, could the same catfish communicate a different message?
In this second (also genuine) image, his joyous perspiration now appears to be the manifestation of his fear. His "arm" now looks to be fending off a blow. His open-mouthed grin is full of terror.
He knows his end is nigh and can only petition an unjust universe.
Or… Is this the authentic representation of the catfish's inner state? We'll never know for sure.