Cute is the New Punk

Okay, almost certainly not, but it was a catchy heading, damnit. (Now I’m seeing punk hamsters in little leather jackets and liberty spikes…mmm, maybe I’m on to something…’course, the two might be anathema…)

Like a lot of people, since certain recent events–and more stacking up every damn day, like that idiocy with textbooks in Wiconsin and Texas, which makes me froth like rabies milkshake–I have wanted to DO SOMETHING. Problem is that I’m never sure exactly what to do. Donating money/time is the standard, of course, (and now that the taxes are paid off, I’m getting back onto the charity junket, even if it’s just a few bucks a month) but what I’d like to do is use my skills, such as they are, for my causes, such as they are.

Once upon a time, in this very space, I debated whether I SHOULD do something politically motivated…these days, that one’s gone by the wayside, and now the question is HOW should I do it?

The thing is that about the only skill I’ve got honed is…cute weird animals. I can do other stuff than the cute weird animals, obviously, but that’s…kinda my thing. It’s where I feel the most at home. I don’t know. It’s a little unnerving to think that the truest expression of my artistic soul might be a fat hamster with an axe in its back–I mean jeez, abandon all pretense to ever achieving greatness at the door, why don’t I?–but I suppose self-knowledge is greatest, as the man said. And all that aside, certainly they’re far and away the things that people look at–when art sells, what sells is my cute weird stuff (and to a much lesser extent Gearworld, and while the hamsters are malleable and can turn their fat little butts to practically anything, Gearworld ain’t. If I tried to do Gearworld art in protest of something, I might just finish it in time for the fifteen year anniversary of the court case rendering it moot. The second time. There are practical considerations here.)

Now, for my evolutionary leanings, so far, I’m managing. Cute misguided dodos and cuddly hoofed landwhales are right in my genre. I dunno if it contributes anything to the debate, but at least I feel like I’m expressing SOMETHING, however minor and silly a thing. But there’s a lot of other things I feel strongly about–serious, scary things, things I really WANT to say something about artistically–and cute weird animals as a genre may not be cut out for it. I just don’t know if the world is ready for Snuggles the hamster to weigh in on the partial dilation extraction debate.

And then I say things like that, and I think “Why the hell NOT?” I mean, Snuggles has got to be at least as rational as those guys waving signs with dismembered fetuses, and a helluva lot more palatable. If Cute is the only weapon you’re proficient with, then Cute is what you use, damnit. Nowhere is it written that thou shalt not use cute stuff in the culture wars, or if it is, I will send a hamster to defecate on it.

But the thing is, I don’t really know how to go about it. I think political art and I get a very specific image–those lovely, design heavy posters of WWII, say, the stark, bold imagery, the flat, shattering colors…y’know. Or Pseudo-Manitou’s stuff, say, or some of Peganthryus and Chris Goodwin’s, (stylistically, if not so much in content). That’s what I think of. And that sort of thing takes a very specific set of skills, and it’s one that I just don’t have–I’m pretty crappy at design. To pack an emotional punch, with a pithy phrase, you want something sleek and bold and stripped down, a shark or a barracuda, say. You probably don’t want a peacock or a giraffe with a ten page rambling dissertation tied to its neck. You want brevity. And god, do I suck at brevity.

So at the end of the day, I A) want to do something, B) am willing to try to take cute to weird places to do it, but C) don’t know if that’s effective, or even how to go about it.

And that’s sorta where I am, left idily doodling Ambulocetus and wondering what the heck to say.

On the other hand, inspired by, there was this quick doodle…(avoid if you think the notion of cute liberal hamsters is just unspeakably vile)

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