Sex sells, sure. But don’t underestimate the power of “cute.”
The Associated Press examines the cult of cuteness in Japan, where it’s become a major export, placing the likes of Hello Kitty alongside cars and technology in the economic hierarchy.
It’s not all warm fuzzies and pink bows, though:
Skeptics here say Japan’s pursuit of cute is a sign of an infantile mentality and worry that Japanese culture — historically praised for exquisite understatement as sparse rock gardens and ukiyoe woodblock prints — may be headed toward doom.
Osaka Shoin Women’s University professor Hiroto Murasawa, an expert on the culture of beauty, believes cute is merely proof that Japanese simply don’t want to grow up but feels they must change to articulate its views on the international stage.
“It’s a mentality that breeds non-assertion,” he said of the cute mind-set. “Individuals who choose to stand out get beaten down.”
Nonsense, says Tomoyuki Sugiyama, author of Cool Japan, who believes the love of cuteness has deep roots in the country’s history: “Japanese are seeking a spiritual peace and an escape from brutal reality through cute things.”