The 2020 Oscars ceremony was a night of highs and lows for the nominated professionals in the film industry. It was also a program that tried hard to stay away from any controversy by being as inoffensive in its presentation as possible. But one joke during the ceremony with regards to the musical Cats had Hollywood's Visual Effects Society up in arms, releasing a statement supported by more than 4000 VFX artists.

"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."
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The joke in question was played out between James Corden and Rebel Wilson, both of whom had been a part of Cats, and who showed up on stage dressed in Halloween cat costumes resembling their characters from the movie. The duo was there to present the award for the best special effects in a film and took the opportunity to joke that "nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects", provoking widespread laughter from the audience.

It is this knock at the visual effects of Cats that the Visual Effects Society is contesting with their statement, which goes on to say.

"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."

It seems the members of the Society believe that the failure of Cats was a direct consequence of poor storytelling rather than the look of the human characters pretending to be anthropomorphic felines with the aid of CGI. The statement concludes with.

"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. 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."

It is more than likely the writers for the Oscars ceremony did not anticipate that their jab at the bizarre CGI aspect of Cats would elicit such a strong response from the artists responsible for bringing the controversial look of the cast of the film to life.

While the statement makes it clear the VFX artists blame the story and direction for Cats bombing at the box-office and getting savaged by critics, it must be remembered, that right from the moment the first trailer for the movie dropped, the look of the characters was hotly criticized. Many moviegoers and critics pointed out that the 'Uncanny Valley' look of every human actor in their CGIed cat bodies was a huge detriment to enjoying whatever plot and music the film was serving. So far, there has been no response from the people behind the Oscars ceremony in response to the statement. This news comes from {http://variety.com/2020/film/news/Cats-vfx-society-slams-oscars-1203500029/|Variety}.

Neeraj Chand