When a valiant NYC rat was filmed dragging a slice of pizza larger than its own body down the subway stairs, we felt for it. We applauded its efforts. We embraced its struggle as one representative of our own. Overnight, Pizza Rat became, if not a hero, certainly an icon. Then Pizza Rat’s annoying cousin, Selfie Rat, emerged. And most recently we were captivated by Rat Rat, who may or may not have dragged his fallen comrade’s corpse off into a dark corner to devour it.
Now, however, new evidence suggests that some of these viral videos are not spontaneous expressions of rodent personality. They are, Gothamist writes, perhaps the work of a mysterious performance artist called Zardulu, who uses her trained pets and Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) actors to stage the videos. Gothamist spoke to Eric Yearwood, a UCB member who says he was approached by Zardulu and paid $200 to star in the Selfie Rat video.
“When she described the project to me, it seemed pretty weird,” Yearwood told Gothamist, “especially the part where there wasn’t going to be any sort of revelation at the end of it. I would not be able to take credit for it and neither would she.” Another UCB actor who chose to remain unnamed (Zardulu had him sign a nondisclosure agreement) said he’s helped her with similar rat-related stunts.”Many have been HUGE stories.”
But Matt Little, the man who filmed the Pizza Rat video (another UCB member — coincidence?), swears he has no knowledge of Zardulu and just happened to be “in the right place at the right time.” JB José, who filmed Rat Rat, also pleads ignorance. So maybe only Selfie Rat is too good to be true.
When Gothamist reached out to her via email, Zardulu didn’t deny staging miniature rat dramas, but she refused to take credit. “Why wake the world from a beautiful dream when the waking world is all so drab?” Why indeed.