This article considers the appeal of the cute body and its ambiguous relationship with the lovable. While cuteness is an aesthetic that is subjectively determined and expressed, it can also embellish a body with features that are standardized by systems of commodification. The cute body possesses a diminutive and vulnerable charm, but it is also an object that is augmented to solicit the subject’s love and control. Hence, the aesthetic of cuteness may seem to disempower the object, but it is likewise, an acute seduction that bears witness to the craft or technē that captures the subject. Developing a framework for cuteness as a stylistic device or technology embedded in the subject-object relationship, the article argues that the qualities and experience of the lovable constitute a condition of the affected subject, who must bear the paradox of embracing and effacing the object’s difference.
Aesthetics, affection, cuteness, design, technology
How to cite:
Gn, Joel. “The Technology of the Cute Body.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 4(6) (2018): 14–26. https://doi.org/10.26319/6913.
Singapore University of Social Sciences
463 Clementi Road, Singapore 599494, Singapore
Abidin, Crystal. “Agentic Cute (^.^): Pastiching East Asian Cute in Influencer Commerce.” East Asian Journal of Popular Culture 2, no. 1 (2016): 33–47.
Baudrillard, Jean. “Consumer Society.” In Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, edited by Mark Poster. Translated by Jacques Mourrain, 29-56. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998.
Baudrillard, Jean. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Dennett, Daniel C. The Intentional Stance. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1987.
Derrida, Jacques. Speech and Phenomena. Translated by David B. Allison and Newton Garver. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973.
Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society. Translated by John Wilkinson. New York: Vintage, 1964.
Galbraith, Patrick W. “Lolicon: The Reality of Virtual Child Pornography in Japan.” Image & Narrative 12, no. 1 (2011): 83-119.
Genosko, Gary. “Natures and Cultures of Cuteness.” Visible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture 9 (2005), http://ivc.lib.rochester.edu/natures-and-cultures-of-cuteness/.
Gn, Joel. “Designing Affection: On the Curious Case of Machine Cuteness.” In The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness, edited by Joshua Paul Dale, Joyce Goggin, Julia Leyda, Anthony P. McIntyre and Diane Negra, 175–193. London: Routledge, 2017.
Gould, Stephen Jay. The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History. London and New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1980.
Heidegger, Martin. “The Question Concerning Technology.” In Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, edited by David Farrell Krell. Translated by William Lovitt, 307–341. London: Harper Perennial, 2008.
Idhe, Don. Technics and Praxis. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1979.
Kinsella, Sharon. “Comments on McVeigh (1996).” Journal of Material Culture 2, no. 3 (1997): 383–385.
Kinsella, Sharon. “Cuties in Japan.” In Women, Media and Consumption in Japan, edited by Lise Skov and Brian Moeran, 220–254. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995.
McVeigh, Brian J. “How Hello Kitty Commodifies the Cute, Cool and Camp: ‘Consumutopia’ Versus ‘Control’ in Japan.” Journal of Material Culture 5, no. 2 (2000): 225–254.
Morreall, John. “Cuteness.” British Journal of Aesthetics 31, no. 1 (1991): 39–47.
Ngai, Sianne. “The Cuteness of The Avant Garde.”’ Critical Inquiry 31, no. 4 (2005): 811–847.
Ricoeur, Paul. “Metaphor and the Main Problem of Hermeneutics.” New Literary History 6, no. 1 (1974): 95–110.
Sherman, Gary D., and Jonathan Haidt. “Cuteness and Disgust: The Humanising and Dehumanising Effects of Emotion.” Emotion Review 3, no. 3 (2011): 245–251.
Steinberg, Marc. Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
Open Access Statement:
This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.