The Coming Cute-ocalypse

The Coming Cute-ocalypse

The Coming Cute-ocalypse

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Nov. 5 2009 4:48 PM

The Coming Cute-ocalypse

Like Lauren , I enjoyed Jim Windolf's insightful attack on cute culture , but I find the otters-holding-hands /Iraq War connection to be a bit of a stretch. Windolf suggests that we're asking for forgiveness through penitential offerings of cuteness, but it's not my impression that most Americans think we need to be forgiven. Maybe popular cuteness is intended "as some sort of correction" to our new status as invaders, but that presupposes a level of remorse I don't really see. Which is not to say cuteness and politics never meet; they certainly do in Japan. Here's Prince Pickles , the rosy-cheeked mascot of Japan's Defense Forces. As various government-produced comic books tell it , he is a native of the peaceful Paprika Kingdom. At first, he didn't understand the need for his small country’s defense forces. It wasn’t until the neighboring Sesame Kingdom invaded that the prince learned the value of a military. Prince Pickles makes the prospect of waging war perfectly adorable.

As Windolf implies, Americans are late to the global cuddle party-Japan is the clear leader, and though Windolf doesn't mention it, parts of Southeast Asia are way more cutified than we'll ever be. Maybe a culture as obsessed with irony as ours can only allow cuteness to cut so deep; at some point the earnestness of it all seems ridiculous to us in a way it might not to the Burmese. I predict the Brits will emerge as global leaders in the coming cute backlash. Just ask Ellie-Grace.

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Kerry Howley's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine. She is currently finishing a book about consensual violence, ecstatic experience, and the body.