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Nightmarish ‘Cats’ trailer ignites a wave of mockery online — and has everyone wondering: Why?

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My one-sentence response to the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of “Cats” is simply: “Nobody asked for this — but now I have questions.”

This article was originally published at Salon

Who knew that CGI fur — called “digital fur technology” by director Tom Hooper — had such a long way to go? Why are some of the cats wearing fur coats over said fur? Why is the term “Furries” trending on Twitter? And when you watch the trailer do you, too, think of medieval artists’ fumbling attempts to draw cats, which often resulted in a grotesque mashup of human faces and feline bodies?

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The original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running hit opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in October 1982.

At the time, critics weren’t impressed by the musical’s actual merits — “In spite of some effective moments, it makes for a strained and eventually wearing evening,” wrote Douglas Watt for the New York Daily News —  but nonetheless predicted it would be a hit.

“Cats isn’t a great musical but it’s a great show and an ironclad smash,” Richard Hummler wrote for Variety.

The Broadway run of the original “Cats” production lasted for 18 years and 7,485 performances, and when it was due for a revival in 2016, it became apparent that not many people were ambivalent about the show.

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In Lisa Birnbach’s aptly titled piece “We Love ‘Cats.’ We Hate ‘Cats.’” she interviewed people who were fanatical in their appreciation for the musical — television host Mo Rocca, for example, still has a written response to the fan letter he wrote to whomever played Gus the theatre cat in 1983 — as well as those who just couldn’t believe they spent their evening watching adults in leotards and yak-haired wigs lick themselves and hiss at each other.

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“The people who feel that ‘Cats’ deserves to be forgotten are succinct in their opinions: Once is more than enough,” Birnbach wrote. “Or, as Diane Sokolow, a television producer, told me: ‘Back in the day, it was said that the worst thing about having a mistress is you had to see ‘Cats’ twice. Ba dum dum.’”

For what it’s worth, as someone whose default Halloween costume for two decades has been a lazy black cat, I appreciate the sheer theatrics of the musical. The choreography is engaging — with actors clawing at the air and stalking the stage with commitment — the makeup is outrageous, every single song is the definition of a “big mood.” 

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The upcoming film adaptation promises some of that. The cast is stacked with big-name entertainers like Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Judi Dench and the Royal Ballet’s Francesca Hayward.

But if we’re using Twitter as a barometer for response, most people couldn’t even focus on the level of talent in the cast. There were other questions to worry about first.

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Parody, of course, has already ensued:

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As of this morning, the new “Cats”-adjacent trend involves Twitter users showing the trailer to their actual cats. Felines seem neither particularly impressed nor horrified. Perhaps they are the only viewers who are truly ambivalent to the musical and its remakes.

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Russia went looking for puppets in America — and they found Trump and the Republicans

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The Russians wasted decades infiltrating the left attempting to gain purchase in American political life. There was the Communist Party USA, of course. Established in 1919, the CPUSA grew through the 1930s and boasted a membership of about 100,000 at the beginning of World War II. A hundred thousand! Whoop-de-doo!

This article first appeared in Salon

Then there were the spinoff lefty parties like the Socialist Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Workers World Party, the Socialist Labor Party, the Progressive Labor Party — we could go on listing one splinter group after another with “socialist” or “labor” or “workers” in its title. They were tiny groups with memberships that were sometimes less than 100, and they would all deny being infiltrated by the Russkies, naturally. So would the “New Left” groups that came later, like SDS and The Weathermen. Nobody wanted to admit they were under Russian influence. Everything they were doing, from opposing the war in Vietnam to civil rights to fighting for free speech, was being done for completely pure reasons.

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2020 Election

William Barr made it clear this week that he’d sign off on a sham investigation into the Dems’ 2020 nominee

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

A perfect storm propelled New York's sleaziest real estate developer to an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite winning three million fewer votes than his opponent, but Nate Silver made a compelling argument that the letter James Comey sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day announcing that the FBI was re-opening its probe into Hillary Clinton's emails was decisive.

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Is Donald Trump a supporter of Israel? Sure — he’s also an anti-Semite

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On Wednesday, Jared Kushner, who is both a White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law, published an op-ed article in The New York Times defending the president's recent executive order supposedly meant to combat anti-Semitism. The controversial measure will establish that "Title VI of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on race, color or national origin covers discrimination against Jews" and defines anti-Semitism using the language of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

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