Cutegasm! or The Commodification of Cartoons, Cupcakes, Penguins and Prostitots

cute_definitionDate: Thursday, June 24th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Day Three of The Oxberry Pegs Series

Characters morph toward Cute. Whether they originate in your father’s funny papers, animated shorts, or classic kidsbooks, a gradual juvenilization takes place: Betty Boop loses her dog-ears (you heard me) and becomes a flapper, Bugs crossdresses, and the Simpsons grow way less simian. In a brilliantly snarky article for Natural History Mag, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould traced the calculated cutifying of Mickey Mouse, how the thin-limbed wiseass Steamboat Willie became the adorable spokestoddler / CFO for Uncle Walt.

Fifty years of research tells us that we Humans have ginormous radar for picking up the most subtle infant-like characteristics in both animate and inanimate objects. Apparently it’s good Evolution. Back in the `40’s, animal behaviorist, Konrad Lorenz (the duckling Imprinting guy?), determined that a babyfaced helplessness triggers our fundamental nurturing instincts. And last year the Lab Coats pinned it down: part of our lizard-brains called the nucleus accumbens actually gets a chemical buzz off of babies – or a reasonable facsimile. The kicker is, it’s the same Reward Area of the brain stimulated by drugs, food, and sex. And what we crave we go into credit-card debt over. Free Marketeers have known this for decades. Kewpie-Doll Bombshells and Little-Rascal Fratboys sell us cute cars (the Mini Cooper and new the VW), cute clothes (haute Flipflops), cute gadgetry (Navi’s, App’s, Tweets), cute food (the Boutique Cupcake), and cute carnality (sweethearts speak Motherese to each other as Mr. Wiener docks with the bajingo).

In a pop-culture-kaleidoscope of a lecture, childrensbook author / illustrator, Ted Enik will trace how we slip-‘n -slid from The Good Ship Lollipop to Lolicon, from Disney to Henry Darger, from “Hello Sailor” to Hello Kitty, how we all have been willingly polluted by the CUTE. :(

Ted Enik has kept a gingerbread roof over his head for years by working with ever-so-cute classic and contemporary kidsbook characters: talking pigs, chameleon schoolbusses, Hispanic dragons, and pinky-up waifs. Google-Image him and go “Awwww.” You can find out more about Ted and his work at www.tedenik.com.

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