Cat Person Has Come for the Discourse (Again)

Just as the story gave us glimpses of “both sides,” so too does the movie refrain from furthering an explicit agenda. When push comes to shove, both Robert and the somewhat shady Reddit boy are decent people, each saving the day (and a woman), in a way. And like with the story, I’m sure a viewer’s reaction will say more about them than the movie itself. You can see the girls as parodies of today’s overly righteous campus warriors, but then you might risk missing how Robert has misinterpreted the dictate that the man of now must be sensitive. He is pretty insensitive to Margot’s wants and needs, but boy, are his feelings easily hurt.

After the 10-minute version of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” came out in 2021, I saw a TikTok of girls asking their boyfriends and guy friends to look at the lyrics and then list all of Jake Gyllenhaal’s “red flags,” like a (goofy) learning exercise. That, I think, could be done with Cat Person. By the end, it’ll be too easy for your situationship to say, “Hey, I would never do _____, so I’m not bad!” This is the unintended consequence of preachier movies like Promising Young Woman, She Said, really anything in which Carey Mulligan takes on rape culture. It lets viewers feel superior, downright feminist, for having done their homework by watching it and for having nothing in common to the monsters onscreen. Cat Person walks a much finer line, getting into the ethics of ghosting and the politics of a forehead kiss.

Pause it 20, 40, and 60 minutes in. The straight men in your life might not be on Margot’s side, and their reactions might be revealing. Not damning, just interesting. This is the start of the conversation, not the end.

For your own entertainment? Cat Person’s worth a watch, and the story is worth a revisit. And if you’re left wanting a more active, exciting, and tighter narrative that covers similar themes, check out “Freak Show” (Sex and the City season two, episode three), “American Bitch” (Girls season six, episode three), and the second and third seasons of You on Netflix. There are Cat People all around us. How spooky.

(Final spoiler: Robert does have a cat.)

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