In recent years, the cult of cute has taken over music, advertising, fashion and film; our columnist Nell Frizzell doesn't like it one bit...
Kittens, cup cakes, lace collars, anchors, bonding over The Smiths, icing, frilly socks, Japanese sweets, furry animal costumes, harps, stop frame animation, woods, mix tapes and pastels; I hate them all. As I hate hell, all portaloos and twee.
You show me a handmade biscuit decorated with edible flowers and I’ll show you my cold shoulder. You tell me about some great new blonde singer-songwriter who does really sweet cover versions of the Ramones and I’ll pour bleach in my tea. You show me an animated music video featuring rabbits and I’ll show you my bogies.
Call me a unreconstructed semi-antipodean feminist but tweeness, in all its manifestations, makes me want to shoot kittens, grow metre-long armpit hair, drink cooking sherry from a pint glass and set my farts on fire.
Take the new Kindle adverts: twee-er than a box of kittens and equally deserving of a night in a wheelie bin. Not only is this sort of stop-frame animation older hat than Timmy Mallet’s Wacaday cap, it is also ubiquitous. Breathy, xylophone-heavy soundtrack? Check. Pastel palate? Check. Coy looks to camera? Check. Retro styling? Check. Boy as interesting, dangerous man (scientist, burglar, sailor)? Check. Woman as object of sappy, asexual, romantic fantasy (sexy policewoman, on a bike, in a pretty dress)? Check.
You see, when it comes to twee, we women are creating a mighty big stick with which to beat our own be-frocked backs. Think of every twee film you’ve ever seen; Amelie, 500 Days of Bummer (sorry, Summer), You, Me & Everyone We Know, Juno. In each of these films, the female romantic lead – could she ever be anything else? – dresses like a child, acts coy, sighs, smiles and eventually conforms to traditional female roles. Juno, you will notice, plumps for motherhood. Amelie dreams of baking for her husband. The human Bambi, Zooey Deschanel, runs around Ikea dressed as an eight-year-old with sexually-orientated ADHD. Oh sure, there are nods to modern reality; Summer Finn doesn’t necessarily want to get married, Juno likes guitar music, Amelie has just enough chutzpah to fiddle with someone’s slippers. But feminist trailblazers they most certainly are not.
To see women dress up as little girls, carry around screen-printed canvas shopping bags full of cakes and flowers and coo over puppies in an attempt to be sexually attractive to heterosexual men makes me want to puke on a panda. Female infantilisation isn’t sexy; it’s seedy. And anyway, those shopper bags just look like dirty beige scrotums.
Another thing those creatives over at Kindle should be aware of is what I like to call Evil Animated Advert Syndrome. This is the system by which seriously ethically questionable organisations like banks and oil companies use twee adverts to pretend that they aren’t leading us in to a fiery nuclear apocalypse. When BP, Lloyds TSB, Shell and British Gas are using animation, folk music and pastels to appear cuddly, warm and sweet it’s time for the rest of the advertising world to buck the f**k up.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy some beans and a box of matches.