i’m still thinking about jake gyllenhaal’s ‘rumored cat.’

Behold a classic tale at the corner of toxic internet fandom and mistaken feline identity.

Queering the Burbs is a weekly-ish distillation of pop culture, politics and queerness written by Joe Erbentraut. If you like what you see, please consider subscribing (it’s free!), liking or sharing this piece.

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Listen, I realize that the rest of the world has moved on to Adele’s devastating new album, and far more consequential topics like the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict and the Waukesha parade tragedy… but can we talk for a minute about Ms. Flufflestiltskin

The cat, with its meager (by internet-famous pet standards) Instagram backing of 47.8K followers, was flung into the international media spotlight last week after Taylor Swift fans (a.k.a. Swifties) noticed last week that the account posted an image and caption seemingly referencing Swift and urging her fans to “stop cyber bullying.” 

A post shared by FLUFFLE STILT SKIN (@ms.flufflestiltskin)

So why, might you ask, did the Swifties descend on this adorable cat’s Instagram page? Well, the cat has been rumored for years to belong to actor Jake Gyllenhaal, whose three-month relationship with Swift inspired her just-rereleased (and extended to 10 minutes) song “All Too Well.” A Vice “investigation” in 2019 has liked or commented on many of the cat’s posts, and also was reportedly heard in one of its IG Story posts. Both Jake and his sister Maggie also follow the account. And as Page Six pointed out last week, Gyllenhaal has actually confirmed he has met the cat, though he has played coy as to whether or not it is actually his.

So, Gyllenhaal owns an adorable cat, and has also confirmed he does (in fact) shower, so it’s time to move on, right? No, of course not! 

In a post following up on its warning to Swifties, the Ms. Flufflestiltskin Instagram account denied Gyllenhaal’s ownership. The post stated that “humans use the internet to send me messages thinking that I’m Jake’s cat but they don’t use the same internet to figure out that Jake doesn’t have a cat…Not gonna lie, starting to fear for this species.” 

So whose cat is it anyway? Well, let’s let Ms. Flufflestiltskin clear this up herself. Last year, during the pandemic, she “gave an interview” to the website Pioneer Works where she confirmed that her owner is male, squashing the beliefs of some that she belonged to either Maggie or Gyllenhaal’s girlfriend, Jeanne Cadieu. And W Magazine reported last year and The Cut reiterated last week that music producer Bryan Ling is the cat’s likeliest owner. 

Ling, in addition to being a music producer and (dream job alert!) music supervisor on the film Booksmart, is also the manager of singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas (a.k.a. Perfume Genius), whom she has also been photographed with on her account. Ling is also, reportedly, a close friend of Gyllenhaal’s. And in 2019, Ling posted this photo that appears to show Ms. Flufflestiltskin as a kitten.

A post shared by bryan ling (@dailysmiles)

Case closed, the cat is not Gyllenhaal’s. But Ms. Flufflestiltskin is very dang cute, the Gyllenhaal family seems to be deeply invested in the narrative (who could blame them?) and the internet loves a low-stakes mystery. So there we have it, folks.

As a programming note, updates to this newsletter may be a bit more sporadic in the weeks ahead, but I’m plotting some big ideas for the new year. If there’s something you love about this space and would like to see more of, I appreciate your feedback. If there’s something you dislike about this space and would like to see less of, kindly keep that to yourself because this human’s sense of self-worth is a little fragile at the moment. I joke (mostly)! Creating and building this newsletter from a half-joking catchphrase to a collection of 50-plus essays (so far) has been an incredible experience, and I am very grateful for all you sticking around and reading these words.

Wherever this short holiday week takes you, I hope it finds you well. 

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SOMETHING(S) TO LINK ABOUT:

  • David Brooks (ugh I know) attended the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando this year and wrote in The Atlantic about what he saw there. The title — “The Terrifying Future of the American Right” — is hyperbolic for sure, but provides an illuminating view into what might lie ahead for American political discourse.

  • I don’t really have words on the Rittenhouse verdict, but author Robert Jones Jr. (of Son of Baldwin and The Prophets fame) really put it so clearly. Read them, process them, thinking about what we might be able to do about them.

A post shared by Robert Jones, Jr. (@thesonofbaldwin)
  • If you need a pick-me-up from Brooks’ dispatch, Rittenhouse, or the news cycle more generally, Ted Talks just uploaded a TedX Nashville talk from freshly Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Valerie June. In her segment, June discusses the impetus to celebrate Black joy in the face of so much suffering and trauma, pulls inspiration from the words of Toni Morrison and John Lewis, and reminds us that “joy is a choice, positivity is a choice, joy is a practice, and positivity is a practice.” This helped me today, and I hope it helps you.

  • Speaking of the Grammys, ABBA was just nominated for a Grammy award for their new single “I Still Have Faith In You.” This is the first Grammy nomination in the band’s 48-year history and the song is genuinely pretty good! (And the Grammys wonder why no one takes them seriously?)

  • If you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for a gay person who spends too much time online, there is now a children’s book version of Fergie’s infamous performance of the national anthem at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. 

  • On the subject of possibly spending too much time online, the internet thinks it’s possible that Demi Moore has been in a semi-secret relationship with a woman for nine years. If this turns out to be true, can we officially call this turn of events “the Elvira?” Let’s make a thing!

  • Speaking of rumors, there are indications that Taco Bell will be bringing back its Mexican pizza next spring. As we rapidly approach the two-year mark of this pandemic, I really need this to be true.

  • According to a now-viral TikTok video embedded below, Real Housewife of New York Sonja Morgan once mistook someone auditioning to be a part of Luann de Lesseps’ cabaret show as the namesake of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Yes, the one who died in 1998. No, I’m not confident Morgan knew that even after attending a benefit for said foundation.

  • Hulu just released a new documentary about the Janet Jackson “incident” at the 2004 Super Bowl as part of its “The New York Times Presents” series. The documentary, titled Malfunction, is yet another reminder of the sexism, racism and toxicity of mid-aughts pop culture and it’s about time Justin Timberlake got another public dressing down. #JusticeForJanet forever and always. Here is a trailer for the movie:

  • Now, if you don’t mind me, I’ll be streaming the album (Damita Jo) that got blacklisted and flopped due to the hurt feelings of cretins like Les Moonves that same year. Below is one of my favorite tracks off the album, “All Nite (Don’t Stop).”

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