Tuesday, 12 January 2016

On Cuteness and Reality.

You’re supposed to find this image cute. Here’s a plump little bird looking happy and well fed, holding centre stage in the prettiness of a winter scene. It’s one of the most ubiquitous of the themes used on British Christmas cards – because people find it cute.

I don’t find it cute. What I see is a wild creature trying to find food where there is little, if any, to be found. It needs food in order to make it through the night and live another day, and it doesn’t have much time to find it because the period of daylight is so short. And the reason it looks plump isn’t because it’s well fed, it’s because puffing out the feathers is the only means the bird has to insulate itself against the cold that threatens to kill it. Whether it’s happy or not I wouldn’t know, but I should think it’s more likely to be desperate.

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