The Oscars’ Cats Jokes Has The Academy In Hot Water With The Visual Effects Society

James Corden and Rebel Wilson at the 2020 Oscars

Last Sunday's Academy Awards were something of a mixed bag, with some truly great moments, and some pretty rough ones as well. One of those moments that was meant for a laugh was the appearance of James Corden and Rebel Wilson in fuzzy cat suits presenting the award for the achievement in visual effects. The audience at the ceremony seemed to find the bit funny, but the Visual Effects Society is not laughing.

Cats the movie, in which both Rebel Wilson and James Corden appear, became something of a joke itself due to what many viewed as slightly horrifying visual effects, that weren't even quite finished when the movie was released. That was the joke when Corden and Wilson presented the Oscar category, that people who were in Cats truly understand the difference between good and bad visual effects.

However, in a statement, the Visual Effects Society has expressed its displeasure with the bit, because it implied that the poor visual effects were the reason that Cats was bad, and made VFX look like a joke. As the statement reads...

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 best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly. 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. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.

It's certainly understandable why the Visual Effects Society was annoyed. On a night that was supposed to honor the best, the telecast made a point of calling out a bad example of visual effects and made fun of it. And the VES isn't looking to take the hit for Cats poor performance anyway. The feeling there is clearly that Cats was bad for other reasons, The VFX are not the only reason the movie didn't work.

Certainly, the timing of the joke was probably a little off. For the most part, the Oscars are all about celebrating film, and while the industry might be willing to poke some fun at itself now and then, setting this joke at the expense of VFX right before the award meant to honor it, may have felt a little demeaning to the nominees who had done such amazing work. The VES statement goes on to ask the Academy not to do such things in the future...

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. Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects – and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing – because we all deserve it.

Certainly, what we had here was a clash of agendas. While the Oscars are an awards shown meant to celebrate the various industries (except stunt people for some reason), it's also a TV show that want to be entertaining. Sometimes those ideas are going to clash.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.