It is really fucking hard to write about a work of art that is cute. I thought of using Clandestine Happiness by Clarice Lispector to read the “cuteness” of The Danish Poet, or Sianne Ngai’s discussion of “cute”. But then, I’d be giving you more to read in addition to this article, which is embarrassingly about a confrontation with my denial to feel the cute, ordered and synchronous world presented in this short film by Torill Kove:
My first reaction to the film was a consistent smile of which I was only slightly aware, all the while forcing myself not to be self-aware in the solitude of my room.
We frequently describe people, things, places, happenings as “cute”. I am sure we are not all affected the same way when we refer to things as cute, so it cannot mean the same thing. Maybe “cute” is cute because of its ambiguity: A hedgehog is cute. My boyfriend’s hair is cute. Your pants are cute.
Or, cute points to a quality that can’t be expressed, or hesitates to find expression. When a friend of mine offered me a big dollop of ice cream from the special dessert which he ordered, I remember thinking: “people around us are probably like ‘aw that’s cute’, but you (as in me) need to stop being aware of this, or you will never get out of your stupid head.” Then I stopped, and felt a very deep gratitude for the kindness in this offering. I felt lucky to have such a friend. Now, after admitting that, and writing about it using grand words such as “deep”, “gratitude” and “kindness”, which I chose to use because they feel true to my feelings at that time, I feel slightly uncomfortable.
I feel uncomfortable because the feelings that were experienced by me were quite similar to the feelings I experienced when watching The Danish Poet. What strikes me is the immediacy of “cute”; the way we come to it so easily, as if it is the most fitting adjective with which to offer compliments or assign judgment that has a positive connotation.
“Cute” implies subjectivity that is inseparable from behaviour. I do not think I will be able to come to a conclusion without recalling my teenage years, which were rife with emotion. To paraphrase something I think Robert Smith of The Cure once said about cuteness: “a person is cute when their personality shines through.” This and the sentence that is crossed out approximately say the same thing. I was not thinking of Robert Smith when I wrote that sentence. I was thinking of philosophy classes. But it led me to ask why I was trying my best to discuss it in a complicated way, when I knew that what I was trying to reach was an acceptance of my denial of sincere feelings, which humans are capable of experiencing when at their best—but which engage contradiction if accepted beyond a certain extent.
So then, is “cute” a conditioned, consensual and not so conscious way of referring to behaviour and actions that embody contradiction? May/be.