Stop Trying to Give Animals People Awards

So it seems the cat from Inside Llewyn Davis is on the Criticwire poll for Best Supporting Performance. Enough. 

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Earlier this afternoon, film critic and montage-maker David Ehrlich tweeted a bit of inside baseball about the Criticwire year-end poll.

All right, everybody. Time for a talk. Hasn't this been quite enough? This business of trying to hand awards meant for people to cute little animals? I'm sure it was a very funny notion the first time it was advanced. "Hey, how great was it that Llewyn had to chase that darn tabby all around Greenwich Village? They should give the cat an Academy Award!" I think that's how it started. Something in the air. Like all insidious notions.

After all, on balance, people love animals better than other people anyway. Especially cats. Isn't it a lot easier to rally support for a cuddly little creature than it is for a person? A person with foibles and failings and opinions. A person whose personal successes can inspire jealousy. A person who walks on two legs and is tail-less. How can the tail-less compete with the tailed?

We saw this two years ago, when The Artist scampered all the way to a Best Picture win on the four stubby legs of Uggie. Uggie was the focus of an organized and well-publicized campaign for an Oscar nomination. And for what? For running around a little bit? For being cute? For being a dog?

For his role in 12 Years a Slave, Michael Fassbender needed to prepare. He needed to research. He needed to learn to carry himself in the manner of a slave-master with rage and hatred in his heart, a drinking problem, and a toxic marriage. He needed to master an accent that was not its own. He needed to speak. Speak words, not just make a yelping sound when someone says "speak?" and have everybody else pretend that that counts as speaking before handing him some food-based reward. Fassbender, in short, had to act.

What did Ulysses, the cat from Inside Llewyn Davis, have to do to prepare for his performance? Run away from people? I guess that's the common thread among acclaimed pet performances, huh? Just run, pets! Run for your kudos! Run for your awards! Run and the people will clutch at their chests and thrill at your adorable exploits!

Look what you're honoring, people. Mindlessness. Craven approval-seeking tactics. The absence of humanity. Wasn't one award for Anne Hathaway enough? (I'm kidding! I'm kidding. We've all been way too hard on Anne Hathaway.)

It's time to put away childish things. Handing an Academy Award to your cat is something to do when you're eight years old and holding pretend Academy Awards in your bedroom, because you're an only gay child who just wants to re-enact the Whoopi Goldberg-hosted 1998 Oscars, and the cat makes a better Gwyneth Paltrow than you do.

Leave the people awards to the people.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.