Cute.

Some of you may have seen the recent commercials for the Dodge Magnum. The truck is being reviewed by a panel of strange creatures. There’s a flying unicorn, a muppet, and a happy squirrel, just to name a few. Another panel of Chrysler specialists interview the creatures for their opinion on the car. They all agree that it’s not fuzzy-wuzzy.

Indeed, there is truth in this advertising. The Magnum is marketed as an unholy alliance between the sedan and the SUV. It’s primarily for young to middle aged men fighting for their virility in an increasingly wussified world full of 4-stroke rice buggies.

This all makes sense, but it doesn’t make me want to buy the car. It could be that I’m not in the market for male compensation equipment as personal transport. It could also be that I’m puzzled by all this disdain for “cute”. With the exception of my girlfriend, people wouldn’t say I’m a “cute” person. Yet I have a distinct appreciation “cute” things. I don’t see cute as an affront to my male qualities. On the contrary, the fact that I am a quite large and heterosexual male allows me to appreciate cute as something foreign to my nature.

Yet still, Dodge wants to return to me my manhood. I wonder how they’ll return all the gasoline that machine probably uses.

I took a look at this article and was intrigued by its accusation that Japan is an infantile society for its obsession with cute things. It’s an interesting comment on how the West defines the concept of cute. It’s seen as something to arouse parental instincts in people, rather than as an aesthetic idea. Cute is often mistaken for simple, but if you take a look at maid cafe’s, shoujo manga, Takarazuka musicals, or anything else that involves the Japanese idea of cute, you realize the kind of work that goes into these cultural products. Instead of leaving cute as the exclusive domain of children, this society has appropriated cute as an aesthetic method, and we get Hello Kitty and the Nintendo Wii. In dismissing cute, we rob ourselves an entire universe of aesthetic technique.

Besides, if there is something wrong with a 6 foot tall, 270 pound man checking out cuteoverload.com every day, then I don’t want to be right.