Cats have very poor representation when it comes to film. All animal movies seem to be about dogs. All Dogs Go To Heaven. Marley and Me. Lady and the Tramp. 101 Dalmations. Wizard of Oz. When it comes to animal movies it’s a doggy dog world (I know the saying is dog-eat-dog world but my saying fit my narrative better. Don’t at me.). Even the few cat movies that out there have to have a dog as a supporting cast member. It’s almost as if Hollywood doesn’t believe cats are strong enough animals to carry movies by themselves. Milo and Otis. Oliver and Company. Every so often you get a Keanu but it’s either dogs as co-stars or something like Cat People where the cat is used as a horror element.
It makes you wonder, where is the cat representation in Hollywood? It doesn’t seem to be there which is strange considering the pop culture/internet sensations that are cats. Think about it for a second, how many hours of your life have you spent watching cat videos on the internet? Be honest with yourself because that number might be pretty staggering. I’d much rather watch a string of cat videos then a string of dog videos. Cats have more personality. More unpredictableness. You watch three dog videos in a row you’ve pretty much seen the same video. Give me the cat that pushes the glass off the coffee table or cats failing to jump on things or any countless other cat-themed videos. The list is endless. Yet, still no really iconic cat movies. Peculiar, right?
I never imagined I would be a cat person. I grew up in a dog household and always believed that once I moved out of my parent’s house, I would get a dog of my own that I would take everywhere. I was allergic to cats anyway, I couldn’t be bothered with such fickle creatures. And then I found Hudson the Cat. My furry lifemate. I didn’t take long before I understood that I was a cat person and that this furry creature now owned my soul. Instead of having a dog that I wanted to take everywhere, I had a cat… which isn’t the type of animal you take everywhere without seeming like a crazy person. Part of growing up is changing folks and adapting to who you are. My name is Kevin and apparently, I’ve been a cat person my entire life.
As far as viewing experiences, Hudson and I have gone through it all. He was there when I finished LOST and Breaking Bad for the first time. He’s watched sporting events with me and shot me looks of contempt or confusion when I’ve yelled at the screen. He’s had to endure countless re-watchings of things where I’m sure he wondered if television was a flat box that was fun to jump in front of that only showed the same five things over and over again. Is it so hard to believe that I would want my friend to be represented properly on film? He’s watched countless “human” shows, from the comforts of the chair I just got up from, could we just once watch a movie where the cat has the spotlight or isn’t sacrificed to break a gypsy curse?
By all intent and purposes, Cats should have been that movie. I mean, it’s in the freakin’ title. Cats. This movie is all about cats. They made an entire Broadway musical about it. Turning it into a film should have been a no brainer. Casting superstars like Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, and Ian McKellen just showed the strength of cats in pop culture. These are big-name celebrities who are willing to get dressed up as cats and sing for our enjoyment because they believe cats deserve their time in the spotlight. How else could you explain this type of decision making? Money? Bah, these are cat lovers damn it! This is a statement film people. That’s a group of people coming together to proclaim their love and affection for cats. It’s a bold statement that I can’t help but appreciate, but after seeing the trailer, I wish with all my heart they had found other ways to express that love.
What could I possibly say about the Cats trailer that hasn’t already been said on the internet? This thing is pure nightmare fuel. There is so much I don’t understand here. Why do some cats wear clothes while others walk around “naked” (?). Has Judi Dench actually been a cat this whole time? Are they too focused on making Idris Elba a “cool cat” opposed to a “sexy cat”? Is Taylor Swift kinda hot in cat form? Is that something I should be admitting to? Will saying that aloud make things awkward between Hudson and I? Why do I randomly think of this trailer throughout the day? Do the writers of this movie know that cats actually shouldn’t drink milk and that making a bar that serves only milk is super irresponsible and abusive towards cats? Why do I have to wait until December to see this monstrosity? Because make no mistake about it, I’m going to see this horror show even though it’s not the cat representation that Hudson would have hoped for… if he can be troubled to even think about things of this nature.
Which got me wondering, if humans were reacting so poorly to this Cats trailer, what would be a cat’s reaction? Surely, they would roll their eyes at the human’s attempt to capture their spirits and likeness on camera. Perhaps there would be a sense of embarrassment on their parts. For us humans that is and our failed attempts to win the respect of our furry overlords. I could see cats watching this trailer and looking at their owners like, “This. This is how you view us”, thus severing the bond between human and cat forever.
I just had to know and considering the fact that I’m owned by a cat, I had the opportunity to live out this social experiment. So I did what any rational human being searching for a topic for his pop culture website would do. I waited until Hudson the Cat laid down, loaded up the Cats trailer on my IPad, and placed the screen in front of him and waited. And the results were everything I could have hoped for… and maybe more.
Here, ignoring the awful angle of this picture where it seems that Hudson has no neck, our first shot shows the opening of the trailer. Hudson, who was just minding his own business before being unwillingly thrown into this experiment, actually seemed to shift his body language. He went from not caring about anything to centering his focus on the flashing lights in front of him. Part of that could be because there were flashing lights in a place where flashing lights weren’t a moment ago, but I wanted to believe that the appearance of the cats got his attention. And for a moment, I believe they did.
Then something magical happened, a few cats danced across the screen and Hudson reached out his paw. Not to touch the screen but to be closer to it. I saw it as a symbolic gesture of wanting to hold one’s hand. Almost as if he was saying, “my people, I’ve searched for you for so long”. I was getting excited. This was far exceeding my expectations. Maybe Cats was the representation cats had been waiting for all their lives. A moment after stretching his paw toward the screen, Hudson was up with his face close to the monitor. Something magical was happening. This trailer was reaching my buddy on some profound level that made me instantly regret the fact that I wasn’t recording this monumental moment in time.
And then, at the forty-two-second mark, Hudson rubbed his face on the corner of the IPad and left the room. Just like that, it was over. Cats had not spoken to my furry friend. In fact, the trailer left him kind of befuddled as he wandered into the bedroom and just stood there staring off very similarly to the way Jerry Seinfeld would sit on the bench at the pier in Seinfeld. For a moment, I feared I had broken him. That the visuals were so haunting that now Hudson would live in a world where they constantly replayed in his head driving him slowly insane. I was concerned but left him alone, remembering how I too needed time to process things after my first trailer viewing, and after a minute he left the bedroom… and laid back down on the floor as if his universe hadn’t been turned upside down. I think… I think we were safe. We had made it through this ordeal.
As a pet owner was this experiment a little reclass? Perhaps. No one should be forced to watch the Cats trailer without knowing what they’re getting into first, but I had just had to know. As a member of the cat population did Hudson hold the key to understanding just what in the hell this movie is? The answer to that is no. He’s just as confused and disinterested in it as the rest of us. I’m sure my payback will be swift and without mercy tonight in the wee hours of the night when I’ve fallen into a deep slumber and he stands in the middle of the bedroom and lets out a soul-piercing “meow” before walking into another room. But I’ll tell you what Geeklings, it may have been worth it. In the pursuit of trying to understand why someone would think that this movie would be a good idea. In the pursuit of wondering if my cat understood what was happening on screen. In the pursuit of better cat representation on film… it may have been worth it.
Until the movie is released and locks our souls in an endless nightmare fueled by sexually ambiguous cats blurring the line between what is real and what is fantasy while “Memories” plays on an endless loop melting our eardrums and slowly starting the clock toward our insanity. Then, then it won’t be worth it so much. But we’ve got time.