We’re already six days into 2020, but given that this is the first blog post of the new year, I think it’s still appropriate to discuss New Year’s resolutions. Of course, I’ve mentioned New Year’s resolutions previously – once per year around this time, it seems – and it’s usually pretty much the same. Go to the gym, write more regularly, et cetera. So I’m going to focus a little more narrowly, hear, and just make one specific resolution. Really more of a promise to you, Constant Reader.
I’m not going to write a damn thing about the CATS movie.
(Well, obviously, that doesn’t include this post I’m currently writing about how I’m not going to write about CATS. And it doesn’t include the post I wrote a few months ago about the trailer, which pretty much covers anything I’d need to cover anyway. But from here on out? No more. I might impugn other Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, or question director Tom Hooper’s camera moves and framing in The King’s Speech (and they’re highly questionable, I might add), but as to that CATS musical everybody’s hyperventilating about? Not a further peep from me.
In part, this is because I haven’t seen it. I have no plans to see it. I have lots of other stuff I need to do, and plenty of other movies I haven’t seen yet (Parasite is supposed to be really good, you guys), and I’m not going to take time away from that to see if CATS really is the worst movie to be released so far this century. I may wind up hating something I watch, but I’m not going to hate-watch. Not even to have something to blog about.
And in part, my promise here stems from the fact that plenty of people have already beaten me to the punch. I may not be blogging my hate-watching of CATS, but the internet is chock full of folks live-tweeting their horror at the dancing cockroaches, puzzling out the anatomical questions raised by the cat-human hybrids, and generally questioning Dame Judi Dench’s life choices. The memes have all been generated, the drinking games have all been drawn up, the jokes have all been made.
Indeed, it’s one of those jokes that is the real reason I’ve sworn off further pontificating about our national CATS-astrophe. (Get it? Get it?) Comic writer Rob Sheridan recently took it upon himself to watch the movie while high on hallucinogenic mushrooms, and live tweet the experience. You can read an interview with him about it here, or head over directly to his twitter feed to read it for yourself. It’s a fun, hilarious read, hitting all the comedic high spots – why is this movie structured around a ritual feline sacrifice of some kind? Can you trust the audience members who’d come to see something like that? And the final tweet of the sequence – posted on January 2nd – is, purely in terms of construction, a classic:
Oh cool looks like we started WW3 while I was being tortured by singing cat people time to log off. -@rob_sheridan
And it’s the horrifying truth right there which is why I can’t jump on this particular bandwagon. There’s a fine line between healthy escapism and decadence, between seeking nourishment and restoration in the arts and fiddling while Rome burns. That is especially true today, when the burning Rome in question is the entirety of freaking Australia. (And probably still the Amazon rain forest, too! Remember that?) And frankly, CATS has always held this sort of position. It’s what theatergoers with plenty of money and no interest in confronting real world issues went to see in the 80s, as Reagan began the onslaught on the social contract and safety net. And now, as that movement has reached its culmination in what might be civilization’s convulsive death spiral, those singing cats are back to serve as a distraction. The distraction may have become the inventive ways we find to mock this failed piece of cinema, but it’s a distraction nonetheless.
We probably can’t survive being distracted right now. And I don’t intend to be distracted as I work on…whatever it is I’m working on. (It’s complicated.) So I leave the snark to the rest of you; make of the unfinished visual effects and apparently naked Idris Elba whatever you will. I’ll be busy elsewhere, with other things.
(Besides, the juicy stuff will just wind up on YouTube anyway.)