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From Billie Eilish to AOC, 10 Highlights from the Democratic National Convention

Despite some technical difficulties and some uncomfortable moments, the Democratic National Convention was an attempt to provide solace to a fractured nation.

Democratic National Convention Roll Call

As tensions around the 2020 election rise to a near-fever pitch, all eyes are on the Democratic party.

The Democratic National Convention was an important moment, one that was inevitably rigorously analyzed by pundits across the political spectrum. But did it hold up to expectations?

First off, the convention was held virtually over Zoom, leading to a fair amount of awkward technical issues. But it did feature a number of highlights, some of which came from unexpected places. Overall, the DNC was a lot of things, but ultimately it was a call to action.

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FILM

Why “Cats” Is the Cult Movie Classic of the Future

Is "Cats" the next Rocky Horror Picture Show?


The year is 2049.

Though half the world has been decimated by the hurricanes and fires of the climate crisis, the Green New Deal we instituted was enough to keep us plugging along.

Elon Musk and Grimes' child, C93489#_, has invented the first four-dimensional holographic teleportation device, so you and our family are gathered together via simulation. Right now, you're being projected onto your kids' rooftop garden, and you're staring out over our flooded and steadfastly rebuilt city. Your grandkids cluster around you, dressed in cat ears and cat whiskers, wearing a variety of pearls and tuxedos, long shag coats, and high heels.

"I was there," you say, with a far-off look in your eyes. "I saw it."

"Grandparent," they say (the gender-neutral term, because gender is no longer considered real). "What was it like?"

"It was like nothing I'd ever seen before," you say, rocking back and forth.

As their parents look on anxiously, the kids leave for the midnight showing of the greatest cult classic film since The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Tom Hooper's visionary, warped, dreamlike rendition of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.

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The Past

Flashback to the year 2019. As we know, Cats flopped in theaters, sapping NBCUniversal of some $70 million and chilling audiences everywhere with its bizarre nonsensicality and mutated CGI fur technology.

Then the midnight showings started.

In January 2020, just as Bernie Sanders was beginning to sweep the Iowa polls, the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Brooklyn set up two "rowdy" midnight showings of Cats. They sold out. Audiences had a blast singing along. Two more events were set up; the same happened.

At the showings, "call-outs" and traditions were already emerging. Someone yelled "TISSUE" whenever Jennifer Hudson's snot trail emerged, which was every time she was onscreen (and soon enough, they'll start throwing them). Each time the camera lingered on Judi Dench's face, someone would shout, "BIG DEUT."

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"I love the interactive experience," a Cats midnight showing attendee named Hailey told Spectrum News. "I love being able to really be part of this group together watching the film. Coming up with new ideas, you often improvise as well, so it's just a lot of fun being together in that experience."

All in all, Cats seems poised to become the next big midnight cinematic masterpiece. In many ways, it possesses all the necessary characteristics needed to make it one.

Cats As the Archetypal Midnight Movie

Cats has a lot in common with great cult films of the past, dating back to the origins of cult moviegoing. "Midnight Movies [by J. Hoberman] finds the origins of late-night moviegoing in different strains of obsessive cinephile fandom dating back to the early 20th century," writes Matt Singer for Screencrush. "They compare cultists to the surrealists of the 1920s who 'courted disorientation' and watched movies for their 'dreamlike latent content that could be precipitated by deranging or bypassing the manifest content of its storyline.' The surrealists would have loved Cats, which provides its own disorientation for the viewer. It basically has no story, so nothing needs to be deranged or bypassed. It's pure dreamlike insanity."

If a cult movie needs to appeal to a desire for drug-like disorientation by replacing any semblance of a storyline with scattered dreamlike images, then Cats fits the bill. There's something of a Dali-clock drippiness to Cats, something oozing behind its kitschy exterior.

Typical midnight cult classics are also generally rejected by mainstream audiences. Left in the dark, they often grow popular for celebrating some form of taboo, queer, or otherwise restricted identity or sexuality—which Rocky Horror exemplified. While Cats lacks Rocky's heart (and most of its quality), it occupies a different but necessary niche.

Cats As Posthuman Cinema for the TikTok Age

Though it aligns with traditions of the past, Cats is also uniquely suited to the future. In the coming decades, we'll be looking at ecological collapse combined with exponential developments in artificial intelligence. We're heading for a truly posthuman age, where the boundaries between the human and the digital wear thinner and thinner and where, if we wish to survive, we have to deconstruct our ideas of humanness and learn to work and live with the rhythms of the natural world.

Cats is the ultimate posthuman film. Its characters are cyborgs, digitally engineered to be neither human nor cat but something else entirely—and their glitchiness, their shifting sizes and changing, distorted bodies—might be read as representations of the scarier, less predictable aspects of this impending shift.

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The Cats cast inhabits an apocalyptic London, one that looks like it's been washed away by chemicals and nuclear warfare. Yet still, in the ashes of civilization, the cats find a peculiar form of community, embodying a futurity that is queer, sublime, and horrifying all at once. They use rituals (albeit deadly ones) to maintain hope for the future. And they dance—oh, how they dance.

As the world shifts and changes in these coming years, we will dance one way or another, because that's what humans do. These decades might see impossibly strange metamorphoses that change our world down to its very DNA, but Cats is the perfect midnight classic for our times because it mirrors the oddity of this world and celebrates it, in all its warped glory.

In its oddness, its fundamental wrongness—almost seemed to approximate the weirdness that many of us feel while reading the news, or even while simply being alive and in our bodies. Being alive has never not been strange, and since the dawn of cinema, we've never not had cult classics to shock and horrify our elders while giving a voice to weird, unruly youth subcultures.

Cats may already be doing this. It resembles the warped, distorted images that we see on apps like TikTok and Snapchat, where technology is capable of distorting facial features, turning humans into wide-nosed, shaky-voiced children, heart-eyed clones, or—of course—furry CGI cats. Yet the film also illuminates the horror, and the loss of humanness, that accompanies our increasingly digitized, pollution-choked world.

The Future

Back to the future. You're gazing at your grandkids as they skip down the road, singing Memory and taking the last hits from the tobacco industry's latest attempts at repackaging its product.

You're caught up in your own memories… of a time when you were all alone in the moonlight, not a sound from the pavement except your own horrified, quietly delighted reactions to seeing Cats in all its grotesqueness for the first time. You were beautiful then… You remember a time you knew what happiness was. Now the memory lives again.

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FILM

"Cats" Is the Worst "Star Wars" Movie Yet

If you were hoping that Cats would be a great Star Wars movie, you're in for a disappointment. It's a bad one.

Movieweb

As a huge Star Wars fan, I've spent months looking forward to the latest entry in the saga: Cats.

I wish I could say that all the anticipation was worth it, but I honestly think it's the worst Star Wars movie yet—and yes, I'm including the prequels. While I understood the backlash to The Last Jedi, I didn't expect J.J. Abrams to so thoroughly retcon all of Rian Johnson's contributions to the Star Wars universe. It was like starting over from scratch.

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Perhaps that's why he also felt the need to throw in such a huge cast of new characters we've never heard of before. New characters appear and are introduced so quickly that it's hard to know who we're supposed to care about, which really saps the energy out of all the intrigue and interpersonal drama. Leaving aside the introduction of new elements like the Heaviside Layer—which promises new life, erasing the stakes of mortal danger—I just didn't find myself invested in any member of the Jellicle tribe (who seem to be the new faction of the Resistance).

James Corden as Bustopher Jones

Early in the film it seemed that Rum Tum Tugger—a rebellious character with a lot of sex appeal, in the mold of Han Solo—was going to be central to the action now that Han himself has been killed off. But as things progressed, I was less and less sure. Was I supposed to be looking for some conflict to arise with the new Jabba the Hutt character—an imposing plutocrat named Bustopher Jones? Or is the true villain the kidnapper Macavity, played by Idris Elba, who steals away the sage, Obi-Wanesque Old Deuteronomy, as portrayed by Judi Dench?

And can we please talk about these new names? Star Wars has always had some weird ones—I'm not going to defend Jek Porkins—but Munkustrap? Skimbleshanks? Bombalurina? Do all the new characters have to have dumb names like this? Obviously I'll make an exception for the bright spot that is Mr. Mistoffelees—whose name is almost as cool as his mysterious new force powers.

Mr. Mistoffelees

Speaking of force powers, it's great that there are so many new force-users performing acrobatic Jedi moves, but does it have to be such a focus? The newest installment was so obsessed with showcasing these impressive abilities that it seemed to forget entirely about Star Wars staples. With very little in the way of training montages, characters seem to be able to perform superhuman feats the likes of which we've never seen before, but I don't think I saw a single light saber battle.

Speaking of Star Wars staples, did John Williams drop out of this one or something? The music in this one was fun at times, but it lacked the thrilling, epic scale of Williams' orchestral sound. And all the characters singing about themselves and each other didn't really help. I also thought it was a strange decision to make the switch back to CGI from the practical effects that have dominated in the sequels so far.

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That said, replacing all the characters with sexy anthropomorphic cat people was a great call, and made me really excited for the future of Star Wars. Go see this one with your parents.

FILM

We Deserve the New "Cats" Trailer

Don't act like you didn't watch it.

After seeing the horrendous first trailer, some of us hoped that Cats would reconsider its decision to feature eerily realistic and yet incredibly uncanny cat-human hybrids.

This has not happened. The cats in the latest trailer are mostly buff, large-breasted, and endowed with human features and very feline fur. They look like something out of the worst acid trip of all time.

Joe.ie

Overall, the new trailer is like Alice in Wonderland if it were redesigned by the corporate overlords in Sorry to Bother You. If their appearances weren't odd enough, there's the fact that—as The Cut smartly pointed out—the cats appear to be different sizes in almost every frame. They must've taken whatever pill Jefferson Airplane is talking about in "White Rabbit," because they're sometimes very large and sometimes very small.

Then there are the psychedelic colors, the swirling shots pieced together like the rough cut of a montage for a Tame Impala video, and the endlessly cheesy one-liners.

Honestly, the cats in Cats would have been so much easier to look at if someone had made the decision to use regular costumes instead of whatever CGI they're trying out.

The Cut

On the other hand, Cats itself is a bizarre and strange musical that does feature humanoid cat-dancers. Iit's supposed to be disorienting and dreamlike, and it's predicated on the suspension of belief. Based on a series of poems by T. S. Eliot, it's an abstract and nonsensical show about a colony of wild cats that dance and sing their way through an unruly haze of cat parties, nostalgia, and magic, for God's sake.

But the musical is mostly noteworthy for its extraordinary dancing and its charming music; the rest is fluff. On the other hand, it seems that the movie will mostly rely on the star power of its very famous cast, which includes James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson, Taylor Swift, Dame Judi Dench, and Jason Derulo, all of whom somehow agreed to having their faces and body shapes coated in CGI fur suits. Maybe the fact that these people are so famous and familiar is part of what makes the preview look so peculiar. It's as if our cultural avatars have been filtered through a bad photoshop job or ingested a couple of nasty chemicals from the MK-Ultra era; strangers would've been easier to bear.

On the other hand, maybe Cats is what we as a collective society deserve and need. After all, it's not like we live in a logical world. Today, in the era of social media, streaming, and endless TikTok loops, it takes something absolutely absurd to grab our attention for longer than a 24-hour news cycle, and by proxy, media is becoming more bizarre, more psychedelic, and more outlandishly self-referential. Maybe Cats' oddness is just a roundabout marketing scheme.

Regardless, the real world often seems as topsy-turvy and plotless as the Cats trailer. So, keep dancing away under the Jellicle moon, cat-humans; we'll be watching in blissful horror, and lapping up every frame.

Cats – Official Trailer | MTV Movies www.youtube.com

Bios

Jennifer Hudson

All you need to know.

Full Name: Jennifer Kate Hudson

Date of Birth: September 12, 1981

Born: Chicago, IL

Occupation: Singer, actress, television personality

Status: Single

Children: 1

www.bostonherald.com

From a contestant on American Idol to a judge on The Voice, Jennifer Hudson has come full circle. With talent that oozes out of every pore, the singer-actress is one of today's finest performers - from humble beginnings to Hollywood. Here's more to know about the 37-year-old and why she'll always be an American idol…

America's Sweetheart

Hudson was a standout on Season 3 of the TV reality competition, American Idol. Many folks forget that she didn't actually win, but she's surely a winner now. The show catapulted the Chicago-native into the stratosphere, and when the show wrapped, her journey to stardom soared.

Movie Magic

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After wowing the crowds with her vocal chops, Hudson proved her passion for film was just as fierce. She went on to star in Dreamgirls, winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. Fans loved her in the Sex and the City movie as the lovable assistant to Carrie Bradshaw. From movies came Broadway where audiences were in awe as they watched Hudson work her magic live on stage.

Chair Turning

These days, Hudson is back on a singing competition show, but now she's playing judge. The next up-and-comers have to face Hudson and the rest of the panel as they perform just like she did. The Voice is in its 15th season and Hudson's presence is keeping the show fresh and fabulous.

Looking Lovely

Over the years, we watched Hudson morph from girl-next-door to glam goddess. Check out some of her finest fashion moments.

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Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G, Understood.org, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.


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FILM & TV

RECAP | The Voice Comes Back for Its 15th Season

Our favorite bickering Voice veterans Blake Shelton and Adam Levine are joined by Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson

It's hard to believe that The Voice is on its 15th season, but here we are.

The two hour season premiere boasted all of our favorite parts of the show — playful banter between the judges, tear-jerking sob stories by contestants, and of course, an epic episode finale with the revered four chair turn.

The episode starts off with a longer title sequence — a playful short that feature the judges as superheros being called for their jobs. We find Kelly Clarkson on tour, Jennifer Hudson in the studio, Blake Shelton on a porch, and finally, Adam Levine driving around in a vintage car. After that, we get a round-up of key events this season with an obvious emotional undertone of "chasing your dreams."

First up, we have Sarah Grace, a 15-year-old with synesthesia from Houston who loves the blues — she sang "Ball and Chain" by Janis Joplin and turned the first chair of the evening by Clarkson. Shelton and Hudson followed after, but Levine did not. After a scene of seemingly forced banter between the judges that was longer than the actual performance, Sarah Grace picked Clarkson.

We were also introduced to the "fifth judge," country singer Kelsea Ballerini, who will host The Comeback Stage — an online show that picks six artists that don't make it past the blind auditions to compete for a spot in the finals.

Next up, we have Tyshawn Colquitt from Cincinnati — he owns Pound4Sound with his mom, a business in which he delivers pound cake with a song. The 23-year-old sang "Like I Can" by Sam Smith and caught the eye of both Hudson and Shelton. In the end, he picked Hudson and gifted pound cake to all the judges.

After Colquitt left, Tyke James from Laie, Hawaii took the stage — the 17-year-old, laid back surfer dude sang "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran and signed with Levine, the only judge that turned. James was also met by weird, flirty remarks from Clarkson and Hudson.

Ayanna Joni, a 29-year-old from Yonkers, was the first no-turn contestant of the night. Joni had a career on the rise, but when pregnant with her daughter at 18, decided to focus on her child instead. The former girl group singer performed "Sorry Not Sorry" by Demi Lovato and was the first contestant chosen for The Comeback Stage.

Mercedes Ferreira-Dias already competed once last season — the 17-year-old from Miami came back to sing "She Used To Be Mine" by Sara Bareilles and turned both Shelton and Clarkson. In the end, she picked Shelton, but seemed to be under some pressure to.

We're then introduced to "blocks" — the practice that one judge can prohibit a contestant from choosing another one.

Next up is Radha, a 19-year-old from Jersey City who does live performances and music videos in her free time. She sings "Mamma Knows Best" by Jessie J and turns Levine first, who blocks Hudson even though she turns, and also Shelton. In the end, she picks Levine — but she tells us that she would've picked Hudson, which seems like the judges are playing with the dreams of these contestants.

In the second half, country singer Kameron Marlowe sings "One Number Away" by Luke Combs and turned both Clarkson and obviously, Shelton. In the end she picks Shelton, but Clarkson gets the next country singer, Mikele Buck who sang "She Used To Be Mine" by Brooks & Dunn.

Sam Hastings was the second no-turn of the evening, singing "Angela" by The Lumineers. Patrique Fortson then came on and performed "Get Here" by Oleta Adams and turned both Levine and Hudson. Having sang gospel since he was seven, Fortson picked Hudson.

The last spectacle of the night was 13 year old Kennedy Holmes who sang "Turning Tables" by Adele. Of course, she gets all four chairs turned and the audience has a field day watching the judges fight over her. In the end, Hudson plays the "get on stage and sing with the contestant" trick and gets Holmes on her team.

The Blind Auditions will continue tonight on NBC and you can watch this episode on their website.


Amber Wang is a freelancer for Popdust, Gearbrain and various other sites. She is also a student at NYU, a photographer and a marketing intern.


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