Josie and the Pussycats may seem like just another fun-filled teen movie, but it's so much deeper than that. It's not just the all-star cast, which includes Rachel Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson, that makes Pussycats so amazing. The film touches on loaded themes such as consumerism and celebrity, media manipulation, and the price of fame all while doling out endless bops.
The film is a loose adaptation of the Josie and the Pussycats Hanna-Barbera comics. The 2001 movie takes elements of the comic books and gives them new life. Unfortunately, this film was a true box office bomb, raking in only $14.9 million with a production budget of $39 million. The soundtrack, however, went gold, selling over 500,000 copies.
While Josie and the Pussycats is one of those movies you can mindlessly watch over and over again, it also tackles big issues that seem all the more relevant today.
It’s A Movie About Subliminal Messaging With Subliminal Messages In It
The plot of Josie and the Pussycats revolves around music executives placing subliminal messages into pop music to turn teens into voracious consumers. The plot satirically mocks the way teens jump from one trend to another and how they often worship celebrities.
Not only does the movie eschew subliminal messages, it pokes fun at it in within the universe of the Pussycats. The film advertises products for major companies like Target, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Coke, which becomes a hilarious running gag throughout the movie especially when you learn that companies didn't even pay the movie to place their products in the film. It conveys the idea that subliminal messages are evil while ironically broadcasting exaggerated, not-so-subliminal messages to its audience.
It Attempts To Explain All Those Seemingly Random Celebrity Deaths
In the beginning of the film, members of a boy band named Du Jour — played by Donald Faison and Seth Green — discover a subliminal message placed in their song. After they learn the truth, Wyatt and the pilot parachute from the plane, leaving the boy band members to die in the subsequent crash. This plot point is an attempt to account for seemingly accidental celebrity deaths, implying that they were killed once they rebelled against their music being used to push consumerism.
In the end, the members of Du Jour grounded the plane and survived. However, they unfortunately landed in the middle of a Metallica concert, where Metallica fans beat them up. It’s a subtle nod towards the climate in the music industry at the time as many music fans had a strong distaste for pop boy bands on the rise.
It’s A True Meditation On The Correlation Between Celebrity And Consumerism
While other films have explored the relationship between celebrity culture and consumerism, few have done so as bluntly or as sharply as Josie and the Pussycats. After achieving fame, Josie recognizes that she's “a trend pimp," and she finds herself disturbed by her position as the 2001 version of an influencer. She realizes that if you're a celebrity figure, especially in American culture, people will buy whatever it is you’re pushing whether they need it or not.
The Soundtrack Is A Statement In Itself
The film ends with Josie and the Pussycats playing their unfiltered music to a crowd. The Pussycats are worried the crowd won't like the songs without subliminal messaging, but all the songs are super catchy, and the crowd goes wild. The soundtrack for the movie is full of bops, but it does feel fake given the movie's messaging.
Josie and the Pussycats is about three musicians wanting to make their music without having to push products, but it seems that the soundtrack itself is a product being pushed; it doesn’t feature any songs written or performed by the three main actresses, but the stars of Pussycats appear on the cover of the CD. Just as Josie and the Pussycats were used to push products onto teens, the three actresses were used to push this soundtrack, which they actually had no part in making. It's hard to tell if this incongruence is a point of hypocrisy or if it's another ironic statement on consumerism.