We live in a time when it’s hard to find anything that can truly bring people together. There were those first, glorious few weeks of Pokémon Go, and of course the universal joy of mocking that coffee cup sitting on the table in Game of Thrones.
But now something entirely different has united the internet. Something so unnerving and dissonant with the psyche that watching it automatically binds you to all of humanity in what can only be described as a shared nightmare.
It is the trailer for Cats, the movie adaption of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway classic. To watch it is to stare into the abyss, only to have the abyss anthro-erotically purr back, making pawing motions at you before rubbing its humanoid butt against your leg.
Usually the question you hope a movie trailer will answer is: Does it look like it will be good? Frankly, I’m not sure “good” carries meaning any longer. I believe this trailer may have just forced us into an era beyond simple constructs like “good” and “bad,” and we must now live in a world where quality, morality and enjoyment no longer exist.
Welcome to the post-Cats trailer era.
Sure, lots of people made fun of that early trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog’s movie adaptation, even forcing the filmmakers to go back to the editing suite to lick their wounds and take another swing at the CGI.
But to be upset about the Sonic trailer required caring about Sonic the Hedgehog. If you didn’t, and maybe even if you did, you weren’t going to be bothered if you happened to stumble upon the trailer.
Not this time. This time we all suffer, regardless of whether we know anything about Cats. (Except the Taylor Swift fans, who want those cats shoved right into their eyeballs without delay.)
The phrase “uncanny valley” has been in use for decades now, describing the inexplicably uncomfortable gray zone between the unrealistic and the lifelike. Honestly, we probably use it too much, assigning it to twitchy robots with exposed skulls and art that’s more Salvador Dali than deceptively human.
But with the Cats trailer, we are miles deep in the uncanny valley. It’s like our Oregon Trail wagon broke an axle in the uncanny valley, and now we’re on Day 29 of hunting sexy celebrity feline avatars for food.