19 Jul 19
What do Furries think about Cats? (Picture: Getty/Universal)
When this week began, we could never have predicted we would end it as one internet, united by our horror of CG-cats.
The trailer for the big screen adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic Cats has dropped, and with it, comes many questions. Why do the cats look like that? Why is Jennifer Hudson’s face floating on a feline? Why do the cats have ears and a tail, but also breasts and human hands? Why do the male cats all wear clothes while the female cats seemingly only have fur?
And most importantly – what do the furries think?
Furries, for those of you who don’t know, are a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities. While some furries have a sexual furry fetish as part of the culture, most involvement in the community is non-sexual – from those who enjoy watching TV and games featuring anthropomorphic animals, to those who develop a ‘fursona’ they identify with and use to represent them while interacting in the community, to wearing full fur suits at conventions.
The community has had a lot to contend with in culture recently, with that Sonic The Hedgehog trailer – which caused so much backlash that the titular hedgehog is now being redone to look less, well, horrifying (why did he have human teeth and hands?!) – and now, the Cats trailer.
And unsurprisingly, they’re just as baffled as the rest of us when it comes to Taylor Swift, Judi Dench and James Corden becoming felines via ‘digital fur technology’ – a post-filming process that saw thousands of computer analysts painstakingly adding fur frame by frame to the cast, with the actors filming wearing motion capture sensors.
Cole, a furry whose persona is a werewolf, told Metro.co.uk: ‘I have to admit the fur technology is…a bit of a let down. I’ve definitely seen better CGI effects, and some of the design choices are really, really weird. It’s fallen into the uncanny valley, they didn’t lean hard enough into the animal features (human noses? oh dear) and I feel like the concepts would have benefited from properly mixing the cat vs human anatomy.
‘The fur looks enough like fur to be nice, but feels just kind of painted onto a human form like a budget costume.’
Crumpet Creations, a furry who creates costumes for fellow community members also believed Cats could have made use of CGI-made leg haunches and fur, saying Disney, who have just released their live-action remake of The Lion King, could have done more with the material.
‘While I completely understand that this is based on the original stage adaption of Cats, the nakedness of the characters is a bit off-putting for anyone, really. Again, lacking in the fur and character design. They really missed the mark by not using this chance to use realistic looking animals or even an anthropomorphic design over the commonly used and seen leotards.
‘They could have used animation styles of Zootopia which fit all ages and all interests through the world regardless of language/fan/community. It really is rather disappointing to see sub-par beginner CGI work for the money spent producing this. The animation looks more of an early 90s quality. I do hope they see the audiences taste in this and alter things for future films.’
Another member of the community said: ‘Why did they use mini humans dressed as cats for this movie? It looks animated anyway, why not do it properly and use some anthro or feral cats that walk on two legs? These human cat things just look so damn weird.’
Some members of the community wished the cats were more anthropomorphic (Picture: Daniel Knighton/FilmMagic)
While another furry told us they would have preferred the casts to wear costumes, similar to the stage production, with CG tails and backgrounds, or go the full hog and make them ‘actual cats or anthro cats’.
The reaction to the Cats trailer has ranged between sheer ‘oh my god James Corden’s Bustopher Jones is going to kill me in my sleep’ horror to Sex And The City 2 levels of ‘I will go see this at least three times in the cinemas, entirely tanked up on wine and ready to hate-watch with everyone I know’. But there’s no denying the work has gone in. Director Tom Hooper decided not to use CGI in any of the actors’ movements, and spent a year trying to find the best technique to make the cast into cats. An insider told the Daily Mail that specialist post-production facilities in London, Adelaide, Bangalore and Montreal will edit the musical, saying: ‘It’s not hundreds of people, it’s thousands of people, you can’t do it all in one city.’
But some members of the furry community reckon all the backlash could have been saved if there were a few furries advising in those editing chambers.
Crumpet Creations said: ‘Obviously, furries will cling to this as it is an animal themed film but with other communities, I am more than sure the furry community is going to be the most outspoken, as we have so many artists who do specialise in arts like this.’
Cole agreed, saying that while he’s not a fan of these ‘unnecessary’ live-action remakes as a whole ‘when 2D animation is so versatile and unfortunately dying out’, he thinks in the long-term, they could end up being a positive for the furry fandom.
One creepy song away from a horror movie (Picture: Universal)
‘As far as affecting the furry community, I don’t think [live action films featuring animal characters, like Sonic and Cats] have as big of an impact as people might worry about – there’s a current worry in the furry community of mainstream society trying to gentrify, sterilise and capitalise on an overwhelmingly subversive, kinky and LGBT+ community. But people have been making animal films since film was invented, so the occasional Hollywood blockbuster isn’t going to destroy the community if it fails!
‘However, it would be really advisable for filmmakers to hire artists, art directors etc who are furries when making films like this. We’re seen as kind of a meme online overall, but furry artists provide a specific set of skills and insights that I think a lot of non-furs don’t consider when designing anthropomorphic films. Plus, hiring artists who are usually fully independent/freelance and often from marginalised communities – this is definitely a positive for the community as a whole.’
But will they go see Cats?
While Crumpet Creations said she will watch it but stick by her current feelings post-trailer, Cole is far more willing to give into the absolute lunacy of the big screen bonanza of furry celebrities.
‘Honestly, I’m absolutely stoked for this film. Not because it looks like a “good” film, but it’s that level of bonkers ridiculous that I personally adore. I love theatre a lot and Cats is pretty bizarre to start with, so I’m kind of glad they’re going with something like this instead of trying to be serious.’
It did distract us from the general grimness of the political world at large for a few hours… so maybe he has a point.
Cats, starring Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Francesca Hayward, James Corden, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and Jennifer Hudson, is in cinemas on 20 December.
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