Though much has been written and said about our recent entry to another decade, it’s just as important to note that we’ve also moved into yet another new era: The post-Cats 2019 world. The movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical, with its cast of CGI’ed lab experiments gone terribly awry, never quite seemed like it was real, but the film did indeed come out and it is indeed just as mystifyingly bad as it always looked. With that settled, we’re still left having to reckon with the images the film has left on our brains. Between now and the inevitably surreal behind-the-scenes material likely to accompany Cats’ home release, we’re left with few ways to process the movie other than to return to the musical.
Fortunately, it’s existed for long enough to spawn whole litters of bizarre material to help us slowly come down from our collective fever dream. Take, for instance, the strange artifact that is a U.S. Department Of Transportation PSA about safe driving from 1984 that featured the cast of the Broadway Cats singing about dead children.
After hearing the sound of squealing tires and smashed metal, the whole crew of face-painted, wig-wearing freaks emerge from their alley to sing-speak that “the humans had an accident.” We’re informed that “there was a child in the car” and, without a moment to digest that discovery, the cats describe the importance of seatbelts and car seats. “No one wants a child to become a memory,” we’re reminded just before, of-fucking-course, the intro to “Memory” is belted out from amidst the mewling group of hybrid creatures.
Though there’s a lot to unpack in these 30 seconds alone, the commercial poses an immediate question of whether the universe is a chaotic enough place to allow for an updated version of this PSA to be filmed using Cats 2019's digital monstrosities. As a culture, we all need whatever we can find to work through what the last few months of ill-advised movie promos have given us. Perhaps knowing that the Cats cats are concerned for our children’s welfare, regardless of how frightening they may look, would help us find closure.
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