The New ‘Cats’ Trailer Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Geez, what happened this week? A lot, actually—and not just those impeachment hearing thingamabobs. For one, the President Trump “opened” an Apple factory that had actually been operational for six years. Speaking of questionable statements, the president’s press secretary claimed Obama administration aides left behind nasty notes, which administration officials denied. There was another Democratic presidential primary debate, Netflix crashed and panicked the world as it did so, someone in Hollywood thought Julia Roberts could play Harriet Tubman, and we all discovered that the Queen can fire royal relatives. It’s been quite a week, this week, but there’s also been all of this, too.

Gordon Sondland’s Big Day

What Happened: As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continued, one witness made it very clear indeed: Yes, there was a quid pro quo, and yes, the president was the one behind it.

What Really Happened: The impeachment proceedings investigating President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine continued last week in a genuinely explosive manner, with multiple public testimonies stating the president was withholding US military aid until Ukrainian authorities announced an investigation into the son of his political opponent, Joe Biden.

In a week of damning testimonies and revelations, however, none were more damning than US Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s midweek session, which proved to be perhaps a game changer. How best to describe Sondland’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday? This image does a pretty good job:

That reminds me of … something …

Oh, yeah; that’s it. But what could he have said that was so big?

As Sondland continued, a running theme began emerging in people’s responses to what they were watching.

Well, that and admiration for the fact that Sondland’s explanation for discrepancies between his Wednesday testimony and earlier testimonies involved throwing the Trump administration under the bus.

Sondland seemed to be enjoying his moment in the spotlight—or, at least, he did during his opening statements.

That didn’t exactly last, as cross-examination proved that everyone doing the questioning remembered that he hadn’t been entirely honest throughout the entire experience.

As Sondland’s testimony and questioning continued, two things were being utterly decimated: the president’s credibility, and the attention span of anyone who had originally intended to do anything else that day; history, after all, seemed to be unfolding.

The Takeaway: We shouldn’t assume that Sondland was some kind of altruistic hero, despite the effects his revelations may have, however, as became obvious as his impatience with events—and his desire to make his flight home—made increasingly clear as the day wore on.

President Trump’s Notes Go Viral

What Happened: When you’re going out to proclaim your innocence amidst an intense impeachment inquiry, it helps to have your story straight; like, written down on a piece of paper in big letters, via Sharpie, preferably.

What Really Happened: As the Sondland testimony was continuing on Wednesday, President Trump decided it was time to make a strong statement to the press as he left the White House on the way to a scheduled event. He almost succeeded.

You might have noticed that the president was reading off notes there, somewhat unexpectedly considering Trump’s historical and public disdain for teleprompters or even staying on message. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could somehow read those notes? Well, guess what.

OK, so that was amazing. But how could we know for sure that it’s real?

That checks out, much to everyone’s surprise. (For further validation, check out WIRED’s interview with the photographer who captured the shot.)

As the note went viral across the news media—with many trying to find deeper meaning—on social media, there was a running theme when it came to what the notes evoked.

Well, maybe it’s not music at all.

We do have to wonder about the things that the internet failed to do with the notes, don’t we?

It’s worth noting that all this meme-ing did distract people from Sondland’s testimony, so in a very unexpected manner, the president was more successful than it first appeared.

The Takeaway: While some folks might be worried the leader of the free world needed a cheat sheet to proclaim his innocence, there’s something else everyone might want to be thinking about here, as well.

Well, That’s One Way to Tackle Meth Addiction

What Happened: Apparently, South Dakota should really reconsider its attempts to raise awareness about meth addiction. Or, at least, run them past other people who’re willing to say, “That’s really not great, Bob.”

What Really Happened: If there’s one thing that Mad Men taught the world, it’s that moral ambiguity is a sign of masculine greatness in an advertising world that is, at its heart, all about selling dreams to those responsible for their creation as much as to their intended audience. No, wait; sorry, we meant it taught people that making great advertising slogans is hard. Just look at what the great state of South Dakota introduced last week.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, that has to be a joke, right? Unfortunately, it’s really not.

As news of the slogan started to break, social media seemed as shocked as, well, probably as shocked as you are right now.

Others suggested a similar approach for other campaigns—

—or other states.

Impressively, as some pointed out, this isn’t even the first poorly worded public safety campaign from the state.

The anti-meth campaign soon became a national news story because of the troublesome slogan, with general consensus being that the whole thing was a bit of a disaster. If nothing else, the governor seemed to be happy with the attention.

With an attitude as seemingly divorced from the reality of the situation as that, it’s almost as if she’s on—nah, we’re not going to go there.

The Takeaway: If nothing else, at least everyone is now aware of the state’s meth problem. It’s an unexpected way of promoting South Dakota as a whole, but you can’t deny that people are definitely talking about it again.

The Internet Is Still Horrified By Cats

What Happened: The new Cats trailer is likely to create some memories, although they might not all be good.

What Really Happened: If there’s one December movie that everyone is breathlessly impatient to see, filled with stars and special effects and an indefinable magic that speaks to the child inside all of us, it’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But if there are two such films, the second one is probably the upcoming big screen adaptation of Cats; those with minds that haven’t been distended by the surreal passage of time that has been 2019 may remember that the release of the first trailer for Cats broke the internet, but surely they wouldn’t be foolish enough to try to tease everyone for a second time?

Oh, my friends. Yes. Yes, they did.

We’d say “We wonder how this went over,” but we could simply point to all the horrified media coverage—which pointed out that the furry makeovers have seemingly been reworked since that first trailer—or simply share some of the social media reaction. Take it away, Twitter.

Well, maybe there’s a reason comments online were quite so … catty. (Sorry. Well, not entirely sorry.)

If it is just a canine intervention, that might explain this reaction:

As hallucinatory as it all seems, perhaps we should consider the possibility that the whole thing is one big, strange, Saturday Night Live–style skit. I mean, Idris Elba, Dame Judi Dench, and Taylor Swift, all in the same movie, where they’re all CGI’dd into disturbing-looking quasi-cat people? Who could believe that was real?

The Takeaway: Perhaps those of us who think that the entire exercise is a disaster waiting to happen are just uncultured.

Look What You Made Me Do

What Happened: Taylor Swift is striking back against injustice, although those she’s striking want everyone to know that there’s more going on. Perhaps.

What Really Happened: Actually, while we’re on the subject of Taylor Swift, let’s jump back to the start of the week—really, the end of the week before—for a story that absolutely dominated a particular subsection of the internet for a few days, and still seems to be somewhat unresolved, despite claims to the contrary.

It all started with this statement from Swift, shared in frustration through social media.

The statement reopened old wounds—something that feels like a classic Swiftian move, somehow—and made headlines. How could it not? Who doesn’t want to root for an artist to be able to perform their work, or root for Big Business to stop oppressing musicians? Certainly, the immediate response was unmistakably in Swift’s favor.

Within a day, however, Big Machine—Swift’s former label—responded to dispute her version of events quite dramatically.

That reaction turned everything into a dogfight, which made it more of a story across the following days, especially when Big Machine had to close offices early after getting threats from pro-Taylor factions.

The public back-and-forth continued with a second statement from Swift—

—before everything seemed to have a happy ending for everyone involved.

It seemed like a bestcase scenario for everyone—and, perhaps, felt a little like everyone had been played by the parties involved, considering how neatly everything worked out; Taylor got to perform the old hits, Big Machine got to enjoy the inevitable sales bump that would come from her doing that at a big awards show—except for one unexpected wrinkle: the agreement didn’t seem to actually be real.

As of this writing writing, it’s still unsure just what Taylor will be able to perform at the American Music Awards, with neither Big Machine nor Dick Clark Productions clarifying what, if any, agreement has been reached. (Perhaps because they don’t know themselves.) Clearly, it’s time for Twitter to finally put this matter to rest.

Big Machine exec Scooter Braun made a statement on Friday asking that Swift meet with him to settle the matter after his family received death threats. He also noted that Swift does hav permission to play her songs. The American Music Awards air tonight. Tune in to find out what, if anything, Taylor’s playing.

The Takeaway: TL;DR

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