VES are right to be angry
*The following post contains 0 cats puns*
The moment James Corden and Rebel Wilson stepped onto the stage at The Oscars, my eyes rolled. Little did I know, that as I watched the show live and darted onto twitter to show my frustration, that the same reaction would be felt by many watching at home, especially those who worked on the film.
For those who don't know, the Visual Effects Society has released a statement citing their disappointment in the recent joke made during the 92nd Academy Awards.
The skit featured James Corden and Rebel Wilson of the 2019 musical film Cats, who before presenting the award for best visual effects, dressed as their cat characters. Speaking of how important they know visual effects are after appearing in the film, they then batted around the microphone as it bounced back at them. You know, like a cat?
Following the show, many VFX artists posted their anger at the Academy's blatant disrespect, due to the hours of work put into the project, especially as it would later lead to studio layoffs and closures.
Many have justified the joke due to the reputation of Cats and the negative reception everyone involved in it will ultimately get. But here's the difference.
Corden and Wilson are the ones making the jokes.
Making a film is a team effort, with the performers often front and centre for being the voice of a project. When a film does well, they can be there to soak in the praise alongside the producers and directors. But when a film does badly, the actors have to take that negativity too.
Let's not forget when Halle Berry infamously accepted her Razzie while holding the Oscar that she won that very same year.
Ironically the Razzie was for Cat Woman, further proof Hollywood struggles when it comes to feline human hybrids.
Berry showed the right kind of humour in this situation. She took it on the chin and embraced her performance, acknowledging the "shitty movie" but never distancing herself from what she made. While it is yet to be seen if James Corden will turn up in response to his Cats nomination, the biggest oversight of Corden and Wilson's joke, is that they were two of the biggest problems with the film.
Claiming to know "the importance of good visual effects" furthers the idea and narrative that Cats was bad purely for its VFX, which simply isn't true. Corden and Wilson can't palm off bad performances because of bad VFX. My biggest issues with the film stemmed from the performances and narrative choices, with all those involved clearly struggling to adapt this unique musical show.
Craig who reviewed Cats here on the site agrees- "frankly it’s hypocritical of the two worst elements of the film to stand there and make jokes as if they are the victims in this situation. They could have said no to the producers of the Oscars. But they didn’t. Because it’s cool right now to laugh at Cats and they want that ability too."
"The visual effects artists did the best with what they could under utterly ludicrous circumstances. It’s hardly their fault. Target the people who made the decisions. It especially annoys me when Corden tells people its bad without ever having ever seen it. Why should I care for any of your concerns if you can’t even watch the film?"
The Oscars have a history of elaborate stunts like their latest Cats dress up, but usually are aimed, or in honour of critically acclaimed movies. Sure, Avatar may have had a lot of stick when it was released, but I'm sure James Cameron could wipe away the tears with his millions and millions of dollars.
The Oscars is a celebration of film and not about kicking films when they are down. Hell, that's why The Razzies were created in the first place, for Hollywood to own their bad mistakes.
Presenting an award for good VFX while taking a shot at a plagued production is a pretty low blow, one that could continue to kill Tom Hooper's career despite the various parties at fault.
The creative team had a vision and with time could have made it work, Cats had a lot of potential, and even had a few redeeming qualities. Made by a director who only a few years ago was given an academy award for Best Picture with The King's Speech. VFX artists worked 80+ hour weeks, only to be turned away at the end of it, due to the studio's reckless decisions. A feeling Tom Hooper may share.
But as long as the actors are okay, that's the main thing? Pump out some out of tune notes and bad comedy and you'll be fine... Apparently.