Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Cuteness Factor

NYTimes story on the year of the adorable and what makes something cute:

The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said,
that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a
human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually
every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, woolly bear
caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, a big round rock stacked on a smaller rock, a
colon, a hyphen and a close parenthesis typed in succession.

The greater the number of cute cues that an animal or object happens to
possess, or the more exaggerated the signals may be, the louder and more
italicized are the squeals provoked.

Cuteness is distinct from beauty, researchers say, emphasizing rounded
over sculptured, soft over refined, clumsy over quick. Beauty attracts
admiration and demands a pedestal; cuteness attracts affection and demands a
lap. Beauty is rare and brutal, despoiled by a single pimple. Cuteness is
commonplace and generous, content on occasion to cosegregate with

My sister actually bought me The March of the Penguins on DVD for Christmas. We watched it on Sunday and then asked my mom if she would buy us an emperor penguin for next Christmas. She said something about it being too warm in Louisiana for penguins. I replied that we could house them in the bathtub and fill it with ice. She said she didn't think that'd work. I told her I knew it would. I read Mr. Popper's Penguins. Twice.