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Creepy Cats and Other Tales from Social Media

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A week or so ago, we talked about the social media uproar that fitness manufacturer Peloton accidentally set off with its "give your wife an exercise bike for Christmas so she can feel really self-conscious about her body" television spot. Reactions to the ad (most of which were very negative; only a handful were of the "it's an ad, get over it" variety) sparked memes, spoof videos, and a clever sequel by a liquor brand. Stock for Peloton took a big hit, and competitors raced to promote alternative, and assumedly less controversial, products.

Moral of the story? We may think we know what will appeal to our customers. But — especially in the age of social media — they have the last say.

Oy, do they ever!

Another, rather humorous example emerged this week from Hollywood. Do you remember when the teaser trailer for Cats first came out back in July? According to the film's promotional team, it was going to be this amazing and spectacular and groundbreaking movie experience. Blah, blah, blah. The performers were filmed in digital onesies — and only then were their cat features and fur digitally added. Supposedly, this would make every whisker, every tail, and every strand of fur (does fur have strands?) incredibly lifelike.

In truth, at least judging by that early trailer and social media's reaction, the creative process made the cats look incredibly creepy.

Comments were far more entertaining than the trailer. Mashable's headline read "The truly wild first 'Cats' trailer is here. You're definitely not ready."

Stars like Taylor Swift, James Corden, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, and ballet principal Francesca Hayward looked like strange mutant creatures or victims from a burn unit. The show — which, let's face it, has always been a little odd to begin with — looked like something you might find on the streaming service Shudder. One viewer called it, "a demented dream."

And he didn't mean that in a good way. Here are some more tweets from potential moviegoers:

The Cats Trailer makes the movie look like it was filmed in Snapchat.

So yo...was that Cats trailer for real or are the drugs the hospital are giving me is straight up trippin' me???

My therapist: don’t worry cat Judi Dench, cat Taylor Swift and cat Jennifer Hudson aren’t real, they cant hurt you.

Are they cats? Are they people? Are they furries? Find out when Taylor Swift makes sex eyes at your teenager in full cat makeup this holiday season!

And,

That Cats Movie trailer is pure nightmare feul (SIC)

All right, so no one ever claimed Twitter users knew how to spell. Or, use grammar. Or, punctuation for that matter. That said, the sentiments were loud and clear. 

Paul Rudnick, esteemed author and playwright, who actually does have a command of the English language, was a bit more eloquent: "The Cats trailer scared me. It’s what would happen if an elderly hoarder with a Hummel figurine fetish dropped acid, ran into the street naked and was happy for the very first time, right before getting hit by a bus."

Okay, then.

Well, colorful reactions aside, director Tom Hooper did something we should all do; he listened. SInce July, the movie has gone through a dramatic facelift. (See what we did there?) In an interview with the London Times, he said, "On some level, the reaction to the trailer was insane. But I do think that there were lessons to be learnt.”

“It was quite an amazing amount of feedback to get, very fast, on the design. I never intended, obviously, to make people feel uneasy, so I thought, ‘If this is being commented upon, then what can I learn from it? Initially, my dream was to take your face and make you more catlike by blending the fur in perfectly to the skin, but always keeping the focus on the performance. The problem with the trailer was that the faces had got lost in the effects. So I went back to the designs in August and a lot of those comments helped to guide me in what we did."

Did it work? Well, the new trailer is definitely lighter and the actors are more readily identifiable; their human features are no longer quite as obscured. Dench doesn't look like she has crumbling plaster on her face and Hudson no longer resembles the fallout of a nuclear meltdown. All improvements per our point of view.

The movie opens this Friday. Will audiences attend? Will they approve?

Thanks to social media, we'll soon find out.

 

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