Now that the dust is starting to settle, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Cats caused Covid. Think about it. All the time that Cats didn’t exist in the world, Covid wasn’t a thing. But then Cats came out in cinemas and, just 11 days later, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported its first cluster of cases. What could Covid possibly be if not extreme karmic retribution for a species so wildly out of control that it spent tens of million dollars making a plotless film about nightmarish horny feline monstrosities who eat children?
At least we can soothe ourselves with the knowledge that the people responsible have not gone unpunished. Not only has director Tom Hooper seemingly disappeared into the ether, with no new projects on the horizon, but Andrew Lloyd Webber says he was “emotionally damaged” by the ordeal.
How much exactly? Enough to buy a support dog. In an interview with Variety, Lord Lloyd-Webber claimed that the movie adaptation of Cats shook him to his very core. “There wasn’t really any understanding of why the music ticked at all. I saw it and I just thought, ‘Oh, God, no.’ It was the first time in my 70-odd years on this planet that I went out and bought a dog.”
Now, true, it’s a bit rich for the man who invented a stage musical in which a bunch of Cats introduce themselves and then one of them dies and that’s the end to bemoan the creative bankruptcy of a film in which a bunch of Cats introduce themselves and then one of them dies and that’s the end. But apparently the trauma is lasting. Lloyd Webber now cannot travel unless his dog is with him. “I wrote off and said I needed him with me at all times because I’m emotionally damaged and I must have this therapy dog,” he said. “The airline wrote back and said, ‘Can you prove that you really need him?’ And I said ‘Yes, just see what Hollywood did to my musical Cats.’ Then the approval came back with a note saying ‘No doctor’s report required’.”
I have two theories about this. The first is that we cannot write off the trauma of seeing your creative work adapted in a substandard manner. Even though Lloyd Webber was presumably paid handsomely for the Cats movie rights, it’s clear that seeing his work so hellishly mangled still weighs heavily. For all we know, whenever Lloyd Webber closes his eyes, he’s still haunted by visions of Rebel Wilson unzipping her fur to reveal a set of human clothes, or Dame Judi Dench wearing a fur coat on top of her actual fur, or the way that the Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo cats have visible human breasts and penises. In which case, join the club.
But at least this opens the door to other creators. Stephen King hated what Stanley Kubrick did with The Shining – so now, by this measure, he should be allowed to take an animal on a plane. Anne Rice said that the movie version of Queen of the Damned butchered her novel, so it only makes sense that she should carry around a basket of puppies whenever she uses public transport. Ken Kesey is dead, but he was so displeased with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that he should be granted the right to drag a load of ghost dogs around heaven for all of eternity.
My second theory is much darker. Andrew Lloyd Webber seems like a man who doesn’t announce anything unless he can make some money off it down the line. Why would he suddenly tell the world that he bought a dog? I put it to you that he is secretly developing a musical called Dogs, where a load of dogs introduce themselves and then one of them dies and that’s the end.
Dogs will be a vast theatrical success, and in a moment of weakness Lloyd Webber will sell the screen rights and a decade from now we’ll all be forced to watch a nightmarish movie about Jason Statham and Mariah Carey wriggling around on a carpet singing songs to CGI tapeworms with children’s faces. History is doomed to repeat itself. Time to brace ourselves for another pandemic.
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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats ordeal: let’s hope it doesn’t spawn a sequel | Cats