Director: Lars Von Trier; Writers: Andreessen Horowitz, GE and Tyler Perry; Cast: Six cats who look like Jesus, Jennifer Lawrence, and Tyler Perry
It’s not as if we weren’t warned. When it premiered last spring at the SXSW Film Festival, critics touted Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus as the film that would finally change moviegoing—and indeed our experience as humans on this planet—for good.
“We got it all wrong before,” wrote an in-retrospect, fairly desperate sounding Manohla Darghis for The New York Times. “We were wrong about everything. But… How could we have known?”
The problem with writing a review of Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus is that there’s no precedent for it. There’s actually never been a movie like this before—in fact, I’m not even sure if you can call it a movie. Does 45 minutes of GIFs repurposed from ’90s sitcoms, 2000s romantic comedies, and the Beyoncé Superbowl half-time show count as a plot? Does it even matter?
The other major difficulty with trying to review Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus is that you, as a human being on the Internet, already know everything there is to know about it. Its YouTube channel alone has seven billion fans, making it statistically impossible for you not to be one of them. And, even if you’re somehow not one, you’ve read the most recent angry think piece about it, published on the Awl, which as of this writing has been shared by over ten million readers. Which is to say that, with every tweet, click, and post, we allowed this project to come into being. We did this. All of us. Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus is all of our faults.
Brought to you by the team of venture capitalists responsible for Groupon, Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus stars a selection of six cats, one of whom does actually look quite a lot like Jesus. Aside from that, it consists primarily of Vines starring a Sausalito teen who looks like Justin Bieber running his fingers through his hair. Viewers are encouraged to like and comment on each six-second vignette in real time.* The film also breaks every two minutes so viewers can tweet, text, and post movie theater selfies. A social media intern known only as @MCKENNA1996 crowd sources a new ending at each screening, so that, depending on the number of retweets, likes, favorites and @replies, Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus culminates with either A) a wedding between two attractive white people; B) a Macklemore concert; or C) a livestream of Jennifer Lawrence on her laptop at a Beverly Hills Coffee Bean cycling between checking her Gmail, updating Facebook, and sub-tweeting Emma Stone.
Though the cast features dozens of teenagers famous on Instagram for no discernible reason, the real star of this movie is you. In fact, there are no credits. Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus ends when a tiny pinpoint of green light switches on at the very top of the screen. The camera turns on the audience, reflecting back to it a picture of itself, steady and unwavering. The light remains on, presumably recording even as the audience gets up and leaves. It may still be recording. I haven’t been able to turn my cell phone camera off since the screening, and neither has anyone I know.
With a first weekend haul of over nine billion dollars, Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus is the highest-grossing film of all time. Meanwhile, the soundtrack has sold more than every other CD put out this year combined. Featuring new singles by Taylor Swift, Rita Ora, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Iggy Azalea, each song appears to have been specially engineered to distract from the fact that, due to the spontaneous complete melting of the ice caps, we’re all being forced to forage for food—
We could fight this, you know.
We could ride out to the desert where the screens are blank as closed eyes and the text alerts can’t reach us. Where the tumblers are full of bourbon and the only things tweeting are the sparrows in the clean morning air. We could start over in a place where you don’t know what your seventh grade lab partner’s minutes-old infant looks like and I don’t know what my grandmother’s Facebook personality turned out to be.
I’d follow you there.
I’d like that.
A sequel to Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus, tentatively titled Puppies Falling Asleep on Babies,is already in the works and scheduled to be released for free online, in theaters, on your tablets and iPhones, on television, and into your dreams via drone every day for the rest of your life or until the universe implodes in a fiery death, whichever comes first.
* Delivered via innovative technology that turns every monitor into a touch screen, Six Cats Who Look Like Jesus features real time updates from viewers across the world who can log in and, after watching a brief ad—well here, why don’t you watch that brief ad first, and then we’ll tell you? **
** The above is an actual paragraph excerpted from the film’s electronic press release. It’s important to note that I did not click the link because I was afraid to. A colleague of mine did, but wasn’t much help, as, immediately after doing so, she resigned from her position as a journalist at this esteemed publication and took her children to “live” with my mom in Fresno for a while…as if that would help anything. But still. You can never be sure. [Nervous laugh]. Oh, God. It’s too late already, isn’t it? It was always already too late.
Sarah LaBrie’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Epoch, Joyland, Encyclopedia and the NewerYork, and was anthologized in the 2013 California Prose Directory.