Friday 20 September 2019

Shane Watson: 'There's no stopping the march of cuteness'

Modern Life

David Attenborough’s Dynasties series ramped up the cuteness factor with penguins
David Attenborough’s Dynasties series ramped up the cuteness factor with penguins

Shane Watson

The cult of cute is now officially at its peak. On Sunday many of us sat down to watch the latest in the David Attenborough series, Dynasties, the one about the emperor penguins. Attenborough has long been everyone's favourite programme whisperer, calling us all together to watch miracles of nature. This was a bit different, though.

On Sunday, we had caught a whiff (thanks to pre-programme publicity) of guaranteed lump-in-the-throat TV. We already knew that one of the team (it turned out to be two of the team) had teared up, on camera, in the face of an unfolding mother-and-baby penguin disaster. So we all tuned in, looking forward to some quality heartstring-tugging with a happy ending, plus adorable fluffy penguin chicks.

Some of us were even to be found exhorting the young people to watch (they saw the French penguin film years ago and are a bit over the penguin thing). "You've got to," we wailed. "It's baby penguins, what's wrong with you? They ARE SOOO SWEET." Then afterwards, we felt a bit ashamed because you really don't want to be cheerleading for the cult of cute. It's raining sugar and kittens and pom-poms all over everything.

Nip in to any cafe at the moment and you will find mothers with double buggies flicking through Instagram pictures of the competition: babies wearing reindeer suits or dressed up as dormice.

It's the responsibility of these mothers to make their babies always look as cute as possible; even bath time requires a bunny-eared towel, and maybe some face paint.

Same with pets. If you've got an ordinary-looking dog (what possessed you, by the way? Breeders have been knocking themselves out creating super-cute breeds with sad eyes and fluffy bodies), not a French bulldog poodle cross, you are putting him in a dinosaur suit before you risk taking him outdoors.

Cute yourself up too while you're at it. Dress in matching clothes (you and your beloved in Norwegian-style sweaters, or you and your six-year-old in matching dresses, in the manner of Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy).

Naturally, Christmas is ramping up the cuteness to sugar-shock levels. Considering a Christmas card, say a winter landscape with ice skaters? Er, no. Make cute memories like the Rooneys. Book a photographer, put your children in stripy PJs in an alpine log cabin setting with Father Christmas in his sleigh, silhouetted against the moon. That's more like it!

Buying a Christmas decoration? Step away from the glittery bauble! Put down the fir cone and the ivy and... urgh, what is that horrible manger thing with those old men? You want a little mouse in a tutu and a tiara! You want guinea pigs in lederhosen on miniature skis. (You do. They are irresistible.) But the point is we are reaching cuteness overload.

We are drowning in cuteness. We must get a grip, everyone. Starting in January.

Irish Independent

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