The decade is coming to a close in just a few weeks, and it feels like a big deal. The last 10 years have been so dense with happenings and tragedy and memes and nostalgia, it’s a wonder that we haven’t imploded from existing through it all. Of course, we will have to close out this year, and this decade, with a suitable farewell. Something that really encapsulates what the last ten years have felt like. We’re going to have to watch the movie Cats.
Let me explain.
Tom Hooper’s reimagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical of the same name will feature a cast that includes some of the 2010s biggest stars: Jason Derulo will play Rum Tum Tugger, Taylor Swift will play Bombalurina, Jennifer Hudson will play Grizabella, Idris Elba will be Macavity. Judi Dench, James Corden, and Ian McClellan will also be cats. The premise of the entire film is that this group of cats, called the Jellicle cats, will be competing against each other in order to be born again into a new and better life. (Sound familiar?)
For some reason, instead of keeping with the tradition of making the characters people more or less obviously dressed up like cats — which is disturbing enough — Hooper (also responsible for Les Miserables and The King’s Speech) and some studio executives decided to make the Cats cast look like this:
My best attempt at describing the look of Cats is if someone went inside the nightmares of a child who grew up only watching the movies Chicago and The Aristocats and decided to build on that terror. The cast is part human, part cat, all upsetting. They have human fingers and human breasts but cat noses. They are in a world that seems disproportionately large. They are dancing their tiny human-cat bodies in with unsettling precision and fluidity. The oddly furry, cat-human hybrids took over the bodies of a man who was previously most well known for singing his own name through his Top 40 fodder, a woman who has won BAFTAs, Grammys, and Oscars, a woman whose net worth is somewhere around $360 million.
But within the stupefying horror that is these animations and over the top musical numbers, there is a perfect farewell to this decade, a perfect understanding of the past 10 years. Cats is the unpleasant and unnecessary revival of something that should be left in the past, more glitz than substance, something we can’t help but make fun of because there’s no other reasonable reaction to it. That describes so much of what has happened in the most online years of human history, where everything seems to get a second life, and reality is almost impossible to parody.
Cats is the response to a century in its teens, marked by horniness, confusion, and fury. On December 20, we should all be sitting in that theater, watching in morbid curiosity as Tom Hooper shows us what we deserve to see.