Ugly Things

Look at me! In Marovich’s article she gives discusses the cute, but what I want to talk about is cute’s often overlooked step-sister, the ugly, and how maybe the two ideas are not so opposite.  Marovich asserts that cute objects works as talismans, holding a kind of power over us in that they make us  want to look at them. And this article says that cute things make us want to look at them because they look like babies, which we are genetically predisposed to want to take care of. However, ugly objects can also function as talismans in how they have a habit of attracting our gaze, but for different reasons. One reason we enjoy ugly objects is because we tend to find them humorous. I am not sure there is a biological reason we do as in how cute things remind us babies and I am not going to try to explain why. However, for me (and I think most people would agree) there is something about ugly things that make you want to laugh sometimes.   Take the Stoned Fox meme, which is a taxedermied fox gone wrong. However, after posting pictures of the fox on Kragslist the maker of Stoned Fox  soon found out that her creation had become a famous internet meme. This is interesting because Marovich even asserts that taxerdermied animals are unsettling. So why would millions of people share pictures of a particularly unnerving example of one? Because it’s funny. I think there is a kind of value in a humorous ugliness. According to Web MD laughter may even make you healthier.  Maybe the...

Blog 2: A Cute Things Personal Excerpt

I found the article to be fascinating because I knew these feelings correlated with Cute Things so well. Without a doubt, I rely on cute things to get me though times of stress and chaos. Whether it’s a pet video, the adorable pet subreddit /r/aww, or buying things to keep to revisiting the cuteness, I use adorable, usually fluffy things to center me. My particular example of many of the emotional feelings we associate with cuteness takes us back to the time after the presidential election results were determined. My boyfriend and I were, like many others, in absolute shock. The air of depression couldn’t lift from us as we were forced to address serious evidence that the people around us, our community, were so filled with hate and fear. I’m not trying to describe our mental state as a political stance (in this instance), but instead trying to provide a view into our emotional condition. We felt lost, unloved, and felt sure of trying, potentially dangerous times ahead. We needed a talisman of hope and an object willing to love (and to be loved).  We needed innocence to be proven to exist, and we needed to know that peace could exist during all of this. We needed something that we could take care of. Fast forward a couple days, to a school day filled with mounting deadlines and the looming grief hanging over our peers and professors.  We needed to find a centering object that met the needs listed above, we needed an oasis. I begin to search listings to adopt cats during my classes, focusing on the...

The Origin Of Cute

What is the ‘power’ of cute?  Where does it come from?   Why does it work? These are question posed by Beatrice Marovich in her essay “The Powerful Authority of Cute Animals.” Through her research, she explores the idea that the powerful authority of cute animals is created through human objectification of animals.  Dog is mans best friend because he has been specifically designed to exhibit certain traits and characteristics that please us. Dogs are bred to fit a standard that society finds cute not naturally but through human intervention. Humans impose their standards on these dogs. Different cultures find different qualities cute which is why favored dog breeds are different across the world.  So how are standards set for what is cute? The Origin of Cute is Babies! Michael Steven, creator of the YouTube channel Vsauce,  explains the concept of Why Are Things Cute in his video below while also answering the question of how the standards of cute are set. There are two types of cute. Some things are only cute on a cultural level because society says they are but other cultures may not agree. But some things are just inherently cute to everyone … like babies. Babies look different across the world but they all share similar characteristics and features: large heads, small chubby bodies, big eyes, stubby hands and feet.  Since all babies share these qualities, people with different cultural backgrounds all agree that animals or objects are cute when they exhibit these child-like characteristics of being small & round. Babies set the standard for what is considered universally cute…  but why are babies cute? There are two reasons...
Blog Post #2: Cute Things

Blog Post #2: Cute Things

What makes one thing cute and another grotesque or uncanny? Some of the authors we have read so far suggest objects have inherent properties that make them “open” or “closed,” (Prown) or “masculine” or “feminine” (Czikszentmihalyi). Can something be inherently cute, or is cuteness a property cultures or individuals project onto objects? Beatrice Marovich poses these and other related questions in her essay on “The Powerful Authority of Cute Animals“: [S]ites like BuzzFeed Animals remind us, daily, of the powerful authority of cute animals, who do cute things that make us stop everything and just look. Researchers are already trying to unlock the enigmatic secrets of this “Power of Kawaii” (Japanese for “cute”). It appears to hold valuable treasures—such as the ability to turn humans (who look at pictures of cute animals) into more productive workers. There are interesting questions to pursue here: what is this “power”, in the first place? Where does it come from? Why does it work? But I won’t pursue them now. Instead, I want to suggest that there’s something in this alleged power that seems to leave animals vulnerable to becoming talismanic. Although Marovich doesn’t explore the origins of cuteness in depth, she does suggest here that the “power” of cute animals stems–somewhat paradoxically, it seems to me–from their tendency to become objects that exist to fulfill human desires, rather than thinking, active subjects with desires of their own. Hello Kitty’s “mouthless” face, for example, with its “blank and vacant eyes,” confirms Hello Kitty’s lack of interiority. She is a mirror that reflects, or perhaps she’s an empty vessel to be filled with her owner’s thoughts, needs, ideas. Could...
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