Making the Grades
Tired of playing bowling alleys, band leader Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), bass guitarist Valerie (Rosario Dawson), and ditsy drummer Melody (Tara Reid) can't believe their good fortune when music manager Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) comes to sleepy Riverdale and offers them a huge record deal before even hearing them play. Suspicious at first, Josie and the girls figure they have nothing to lose.
Jumping to the top of the charts faster than a cat can climb a tree, the group doesn't know that Wyatt uses rock star wannabes to further a huge brainwashing project operated by his boss Fiona (Parker Posey), the CEO of Mega Records. Through subliminal messages, Fiona can convince the populace to buy into anything, and utilizes quick success groups to deliver her message, then dumps them when their own egos become infected--like the boy band Wyatt left on a nose-diving plane in the opening scene. Now the only question is how long will these "innocent" kittens have before Fiona puts them to sleep?
Joining the litter of characters populating Archie comics in the early 1960's, this movie's attempt to parody our advertising saturated society is a novel approach compared to other sixties-TV-turned-movie titles that belong in the litter box. Yet I wonder if the young crowd this movie is squarely aimed at will understand why corporate logos are placed on every object, wall, and shower curtain in this movie, or will Josie simply be remembered as the most product endorsed film ever, becoming part of the marketing machine the movie is out to slam.
This whole debate may be moot, with many parents wondering about the PG-13 rating that's been applied to these comic book characters. While the Archie Comics website has even addressed this issue (claiming the movie is obviously incorrectly rated), a sprinkling of mild and moderate profanities along with a slang sexual anatomical term (Pussycats isn't the innocent phrase it used to be) squarely park this title into the lower end of the PG-13 classification. Add the band members' barely there costumes and a naked man carefully holding a guitar, and you'll likely agree that this Josie is a different breed of cat from the one you grew up with.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Josie And The Pussycats.
If you do choose to allow your children to see Josie and the Pussycats, make sure you take advantage of the discussions this movie can initiate:
While using subliminal messages has been deemed unethical or even illegal, how do current advertising methods entice us to purchase? Can you think of specific advertisements that appeal to our sense of pride, self-gratification, or our desire to “belong to the group”?
The movie mentions how quickly trends come and go. Do the fashions fads in this film influence or represent trends currently seen? How do you think this movie will appear ten years from now?
The female costumes in this movie are often very revealing. Why are the male costumes not just as revealing? If Wyatt (the music promoter) is already able to brainwash people into buying CD’s, why would he need attractive women in revealing outfits too? How have fashion and sex appeal become a way of brainwashing our society into purchasing items?
Do subliminal messages really work? Although they became very popular in the late 1950’s, there appears to be no hard evidence to prove their effectiveness. For an informative, and what appears to be unbiased look at this topic, check The Straight Dope at http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_187.html
For more detailed information, see The Subliminal Scares at http://www.parascope.com/articles/0397/sublim.htm
Parents please note that the articles on this web site, while written in a psychological context, contain references to sexual topics that may be inappropriate for your children. Other content on this website (which deals with paranormal activities and topics) may also be unsuitable. However, they held one of the best sources on subliminal advertising we could find.