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This Video Essay Tries to Explain the Disaster That Is Cats

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Taylor Swift as a cat. Cataylor Swift.
Taylor Swift as a cat. Cataylor Swift.
Image: Universal Pictures

In the not-so-distant past, Cats was the most fascinating and baffling thing we’d ever seen. Tom Hoopper’s wildly unnecessary and just plain wild adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about cats pining for the sweet embrace of death is a profound, transfixing disaster. It raises a lot of questions. Namely, what? and why?

Noted video essayist and YouTuber Lindsay Ellis sets out to attempt to answer those questions in her new video, “Why is Cats?” It’s an hour-long treatise on the modern movie musical, the original stage show, and the bizarre and endlessly entertaining choices made by Hooper and his collaborators in the process of adapting it to the big screen. A warning, this video involves watching a lot of footage of the film Cats. Sometimes, this is distressing.

I’m not fully sure I came out of this video truly understanding Cats any better than I did before. But I understood more why people adore it, despite its strangeness and absolute trainwreck vibes. There is joy in finding and watching the most extra thing possibly imaginable. But honestly, I think looking at those special effects for this video’s runtime made me nauseous.


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