Friday, November 27, 2009

What's wrong with Cuteness?

I was reading this interesting article "Addicted to Cute" in the December 2009 Vanity Fair. The Author's (Jim Windolf) premise is that: "America has been flooded by a tsunami of cute–we’re drowning in puppies and kittens and bunnies and cupcakes–that is transforming marketing (the geico Gecko), automobiles (the Smart car), and movies (Up). But is the world bound to sour on all this sweetness?"

Being a Lolita this hits pretty close to home. Especially being a Sweet Lolita. I think that every Lolita style (with the possible exception of Guro/Gore Lolita). has it's cute features. He even snubs his nose at cupcakes! OMG!

He states that this is "All part of a broader cultural movement defined by a special fascination with all things cute—a movement that has sprung to life against a backdrop of war, economic breakdown, and more Wi-Fi.". He also mentions the web site, Cute Overload, which gets over 100,00 hits a day. It is full of videos and photographs of cute puppies, kittens, babies, etc. I will almost admit that it is a bit over the top. But some of the photos are toooooooo cute!

Honestly, this is just human nature. To be attracted to the cute and adorable. Whether they be babies, puppies, kittens, bunnies (or especially) adorable Lolitas! The Author admits that "To some degree, we can’t help ourselves. In the 1940s, ethologist Konrad Lorenz proposed—correctly, as it turns out—that we instinctively want to nurture any creature that has a cute appearance."

I most certainly agree with him about the Geico Gekko. The nasty giant insurance company attempts to market it's image of cute thru a cute fully animated reptile. "The little guy is now fully anthropomorphized, with a more rounded head, big eyes, and other characteristics we unconsciously associate with infants who need our care. The gecko’s cuteness tricks you into forgetting that it represents something that’s not cute in the slightest—a giant insurance company, which must deal in matters most uncuddly, such as injury, death, and arguments over claim payments."

But it was when the author made disparaging remarks about my cute cupcakes that I decided to take most of this "tongue in cheek". "Cuteness has also insinuated its way into our lives by way of our taste buds and stomachs. The nationwide hunger for what may be the cutest food item in culinary history, the cupcake, seems to have kicked in around 2005. A studied childishness is a big part of the cute movement, and the cupcake’s surge in popularity is a reversion to the gustatory pleasures of that time in our lives when sweet plus soft plus damp equaled yummy."

As I read more I wondered if us Lolita's were safe from his sharp attacks. The closest he came was his diatribe on Japan.

Social misery and cuteness seem to be linked. The precedent we have in this area is Japan. A cuteness craze got started there, influenced strongly by the Disney films Bambi and Fantasia, in the defeated nation’s bleak postwar culture of the 1940s and 1950s. It has continued to the present, under the name kawaii.
Japan is the cute capital of the world—it’ll drive you nuts,” says a man who lives there part of each year, but who must remain anonymous because his wife is a Hello Kitty saleswoman. (The cute industry is hard on dissidents.) “When you get the cuteness here, it has usually been pets. But now that America is starting to get into the animation from Japan, it’s starting to seep in. It’s like a 10-year time lag. When I was in Japan 10 years ago, the cuteness wasn’t quite as bad as it is now. And now I see a lot of the same things in America that you saw in Japan back then.”

You can read the detail he goes into about Japanese Society and it's need for attention by being ultra cute. Maybe. But having visited and worked in Japan (but I'm certainly not an expert) I'm not sure I buy into that.

In closing he postulates that "Maybe the cuteness has come for us because of the huge change we’ve gone through in the last decade in terms of our relationships with our machines. Those born in the 1960s or earlier remember a time when (even as full-fledged adults) they did not have something beeping in their pocket, a time when they were not tethered to the Web, a time when they could be truly alone. It’s not a new thing to note that machines have become an integral part of middle-class life in our increasingly digital age. But maybe this is another reason for the cuteness craze.".
Hello! The industrial revolution happened a long time ago! I don't think people have changed a bit. What has changed in that the internet, cell phones and the media have put all of this out there (for you to enjoy or ignore).

In Summary, I adore cuteness. Judging from the reaction I get when I'm out in my frills, bows and lace so do others!
There is just too much evil, hate and bad things in this world! Maybe this is escapism but I'd rather focus on the good rather than the bad. Jim, the Angelic Pretty images in this post are there to make my own personal statement.

Yours in Cuteness
Andrea Nicole Baker

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