Cats may have been a hellish monstrosity seemingly concocted for the sole purpose of scarring us all for life, but it has at least two things going for it: giving people an excuse to get blackout wasted and scream every word of "Memory" at a movie screen, and that bit at the Oscars where James Corden and Rebel Wilson presented an award in full costume. Yes, it was viscerally discomforting watching them just kind of stand there while the VFX team behind 1917 accepted their award for Achievement in Visual Effects—but it was funny!
There's just one problem: The actual visual effects community isn't laughing. In fact, they're extremely butt-hurt.
The Visual Effects Society lashed out at the Academy over the whole Cats segment, making an impassioned, earnest argument that it was real mean to make fun of them like that. Besides, they said, it wasn't their fault Cats bombed at the box office—that movie just sucked!
"Last night, in presenting the Academy Award for outstanding visual effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie Cats," the VES told Variety in a statement. "The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly. The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing, and honoring visual effects as an art form—and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued."
“On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke," VES's statement continued. "It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging, and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision. Our artists, technicians, and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh."
On the one hand: fair. Visual effects artists probably work extremely hard and almost never get recognized for what they do; it's easy to understand that taking the one, big moment where Hollywood honors that hard work and turning it into a joke might be frustrating. But on the other hand: It's just a joke! And a good one, at that! Plus, who really watched the Big Dumb Cats Bit on Sunday and thought to themselves: Wow, I'd never considered this before, but I guess the reason Cats was so bad is because the visual effects team really biffed it! What losers! (No one. No one thought that.)
Regardless, the Visual Effects Society has the right to vent, and we should be glad that they did. Otherwise, we'd never have been treated to this A-plus burn: "The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly." Woof!
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