This story is over 5 years old
The Hugs & Kisses Issue

The VICE Guide To Cute

I know that Sanrio and pacifiers are raver garbage. I know that all the twee pop and lovecore bands of the mid-90s are counting spare change for Ramen noodles now.

by Amy Kellner
Dec 1 2004, 12:00am


Photo by Todd Fisher

I know that Sanrio and pacifiers are raver garbage. I know that all the twee pop and lovecore bands of the mid-90s are counting spare change for Ramen noodles now—doye—but there's something you should know. Cute is eternally recurring. There will never be a time when people don't at least secretly want their hearts melted by doe-eyed naked babies with puppy whiskers and glitter wands in their big, white glove-paws.

Cute always wins. It's like in Some Kind of Wonderful, where Eric Stoltz keeps trying to get with untouchable prom queen Lea Thompson, while cutie-pants Mary Stuart Masterson, in her jean shorts and Doc Martens, is just pounding those fucking awesome drums with her fringed-leather glove and her insane dimples right in front of his stupid face the whole time. He finally realizes the drummer cutie is the way to go, then that cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" comes on the soundtrack and you cry like a tiny (cute) baby. You can fight it all you want, but the truth is, in this country, cute is King. WKRP's Bailey is better than the Loni Anderson chick. Betty is better than Veronica and Laci Peterson is better than Michelle Pfeiffer. Don't believe me? Let's let the alphabet decide! Here's 26 cute things that are, always have been, and always will be cuter than a button.

AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS
There's this one where this little girl gets a bicycle and it's all wrapped up in wrapping paper and bows. Her family must be poor because she starts unwrapping it and the bike is pink and all tricked out with a flower basket and streamers and everything and the girl just starts SCREAMING at the top of her lungs, and she just keeps fucking screaming like an insane person. It's really cute. Or there's another one with two little girls on Christmas and the dad is filming it and he gives them a dog bowl and the older one who's, like, six starts crying because she realizes what's going on, but the little one is all, "Why did you get us a dog bowl, Daddy?" And the dad says, "Gee, I don't know, why don't you go open the bedroom door?" And she does and the cutest little puppy comes bounding out wagging its tail so hard that its whole butt is moving so it can hardly get traction on the linoleum. And now both girls are totally WAILING and the little one is trying to hug the puppy, but between her sobs and the puppy's frantic wagging she can't get a grip. That clip won the award that episode.
See also: Awkward teenagers, Amateur Kidz Night on Showtime at the Apollo, animal crackers, asking "Pretty please with a cherry on top?"

BROKEN GLASSES
Or, more specifically, boys with broken glasses where they have masking tape on the corner or a weird safety pin. The perfect cute boy with broken glasses would be Harry Potter when he's 21 because his scarf would be all frayed at the edges with cigarette burns in it and he'd make bongs out of the beakers in chemistry class. You'd fall head over heels in love with him when he gives you a mini-baby pet unicorn that says, "Hello, Meghan."
See also: Bunnies, barrettes, Björk, babies (but only sometimes—click here)

CHIPPED NAIL POLISH
Is way better than a fresh mani. Especially in black, red, or sparkly. Only short nails, though. You can't stick fingers with long nails up bumholes, so long nails basically tell the world, "I am a prude."
See also: Candy hearts, clogs, Care Bears

DRUNK KOALA BEARS
My friend told me that koala bears get drunk off the juice of eucalyptus leaves and then they fall off the tree they're clinging to and plop onto the ground. But they don't hurt themselves because they're so fluffy, round, and drunk. I think that's maybe the cutest thing yet and I really hope it's true.
See also: Deer, Deerhoof, dancing kids at weddings

ESL
Everything sounds better in Engrish. Just look at Lost in Translation. Without all the cuddly Japanese people talking in their funny-cry-happy syntax, that movie would've just been a two-hour-long Marc Jacobs ad. But beware: ESL is only cute when it's a Japanese person speaking it. Hearing a timid Mexican delivery guy mangle the English language is just frustrating.
See also: Easter bunnies, epilepsy (just kidding)

FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE
My mom will buy anything if it has a free gift with purchase. The free gift is always a cute little miniature thing. Clinique is big on that. You buy one lipstick and they give you a free makeup bag stuffed with mini-samples of lipstick, eye shadow, blush, and useless little plastic eyebrow combs. My mom has a closet filled with free gifts. She doesn't even use them. She just keeps them there or gives them to me in a vain effort to get me to wear makeup. The only one I like is a cute little compact mirror I keep in my bag that was perfect for doing you-know-what on, when I used to do a lot of you-know-what. Mom also collects mini-liquor-bottles and silver miniatures of rocking chairs and tea sets. But that's mom-cute stuff, which is totally different. Like those horrific Hummels. Mom-cute is not always cute.
See also: Funny answering-machine messages, Flossie & the Unicorns, flip-flops

GAY PENGUINS
This wins the cute award, hands down. Roy and Silo are two male penguins that live at the Central Park Zoo and they have become the world's most famous gay penguin couple. They "shun female companionship," opting instead to entwine necks and "vocalize" to each other (i.e., fuck). They even tried to hatch a rock together by keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens! The zookeeper gave them a developing egg to care for and they hatched a little baby chick named Tango. I'm going to get a tattoo of them on my arm and whenever I am sad I will look at it and think, "Gay penguins, Amy… Gay. Penguins."
See also: Gummi bears, Gummi worms, Gummi brains, Gummi eyeballs, Gummi burgers

HOT VS. CUTE
Some people use the word cute when they really mean hot. Like someone will say, "Benicio Del Toro is so cute!" But no he isn't! You mean that he's hot. A dude who always plays bad boys and never smiles cannot be cute. The basic difference is that cute is happy and round while hot is sullen and pointy. Think apple cheeks vs. high cheekbones. Drew Barrymore vs. Faye Dunaway. Cute has a sense of humor while hot is all attitude and performance art.
See also: Harvey Milk High School, hearts, hats with pom-poms, Hamtaro

ICELANDIC PONIES
Iceland has special ponies that are really little and really fat and have big eyes and they totally look like My Little Pony for real. The only thing is that sometimes the weird Icelandic people make hot dogs out of them. I guess when you live in a land that's all rainbows and magical lagoons, you really have no choice but to eat enchanted forest creatures. Also, in Iceland there's no crime, so the prisons are basically really nice houses with picket fences. One time someone escaped, but he came back for dinner.
See also: Ice-cream cake, igloos

"JENNIFER JUNIPER" BY DONOVAN
"Jennifer Juniper rides a dappled mare/Jennifer Juniper, lilacs in her hair/Is she dreaming, yes, I think so/Is she pretty, yes, ever so/ Whatcha doin', Jennifer, my love?" A very cute flute-y song by the very cute Welsh troubadour. When I saw the movie Election, I almost died of cuteness because they used this song in the scene where the little lesbian sister is swinging on a swing with her new girlfriend. And they're both wearing Catholic-school uniforms! Why don't you just trample me under a Pegasus and strangle me with a fluffy cloud while you're at it!?
See also: JonBenet Ramsey, Jonathan Richman, jumpers

KITTENS
No doye, right? Kittens playing pool. Kittens in a rock band. Kittens wearing sunglasses drinking Fanta through a straw. Cowboy kittens. A troupe of kittens touring comedy clubs. Kittens talking on the phone to other kittens. Kittens upside down. Kittens licking their buttholes with their leg sticking up in the air. America's Funniest Kittens. Teeny tiny little kittens. Kittens. Did you know that 90% of the kittens in those cute monthly calendars are taxidermy? That's not so cute.
See also: Kewpie dolls, Kimya Dawson, Kids Incorporated, "Kites Are Fun" by The Free Design

L-TRAIN DANCERS
There are these two brothers who break-dance on the L train. The big one does all the fancy moves, like swinging from the poles, while the little one holds the boom box as it plays "I've Got The Power." Then the big brother grabs the little brother and somersaults him with his legs, like a mama kangaroo might if they were any fun. Then they ask for money. That part isn't cute, it's depressing—but I like the rest of it.
See also: Ladybugs, Lynda Barry, Land of the Loops

MILO AND OTIS
This movie is to cute cinema what homemade anal rape videos from Chechnya are to porno. Undiluted 100% mainline cute.

It's from the land of pre–computer animation so there's no talking pigs, just Dudley Moore reading a story about an unlikely friendship between a puppy and a kitten while soft-focus images of fluffy barnyard animals frolic through the countryside. I actually bought this movie at a porn shop late one night with my friend Philip. We were stoned and wanted to rent a movie but everything was closed except the 24-hour porn shop on Bowery. Thanks to Giuliani, porn shops have to carry a certain percentage of non-porn movies, too. That's why when you go in there they have one corner filled with cast-off videos like Yahoo Serious Is Young Einstein and Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. We got Milo and Otis for $3.99, along with a bottle of Rush, and the clerk gave us the dirtiest look I've ever gotten in my life. Like he's thinking, what, we're gonna go home and sniff Rush and fuck to a children's movie about fuzzy baby animals? Duh, this movie is not good to fuck to. It is, however, the best thing to watch when you are coming down off a coke binge. For that, it's pure magic.
See also: Moon Pies, mooning people, making out

NARCOLEPSY
My friend's boyfriend has it. She says that sometimes it's really fucking annoying. But on those rare occasions when she's in the middle of showing him a dance routine and all of a sudden he's snoring, it's like, "Aww."
See also: Nermal (Garfield's nemesis), the Nutty Squirrels, New Edition

ORPHANS
Annie, Oliver—any fictional orphan is cute, especially on Broadway. They dance around and say cute phrases and they dress like leprechaun crusty punks. Real ones are not so great. They get raped a lot and fight each other.
See also: Optimism, orangutans in motivational posters

DRUG BAGS WITH PICTURES OF HEARTS OR CHOCOLATE CHIPS
When you get drugs in one of these, there's no way you're having a bad trip. Also it means that your dealer has an old soul and probably buys his bastard children pretty good toys and doesn't smuggle dope in their diapers.
See also: Pajamas, pigtails, pogo-ing punk chicks

QUEEFS
Pussy farts are totally cute because the girl gets all embarrassed and maybe blushes and giggles, but really it's the dick's fault for pushing all that air in there. If she knew how little the guy gives a shit, she'd laugh.
See also: Quilts, Quincy Jones (he looks like a baby lion!), quickies

ROUND THINGS
I don't really know why round things are cute, but when I asked other people, they just shrugged their shoulders and said, "Makes sense." Some cute round things include: Munchkins (the doughnuts and the race), cheeks, boobs, bunny tails, cupcakes, clementines, Tare Panda, marbles, pills, ball pits, snowballs, gumballs, and meatballs.
See also: Ralph Wiggum, riot grrrls, Rushmore

SCOTTISH ACCENTS
I have a Scottish fetish. Scottish accents kill me, they're so cute. With the "wee bonnie lasses" and the "two tae me, two tae you, that's eachy peachy, innit, ye daft fanny?" I even semi-stalked a clerk at my video store because he sounded Scottish. Turns out he was Welsh, shit. Jamaican accents are cute too. You know what would be the cutest? An old Jamaican woman arguing with her Scottish husband. You could put music to that.
See also: The Shaggs, strawberry lip gloss, Snoopy, Shrinky Dinks, sleepiness, silliness

TUSHIES
Er, duh. Tushies are the roundest, squeeziest things on your body besides boobs, and since they're closer to the private area, they win. Who cares if shit comes out of them?
See also: Tummies, "Take the Skinheads Bowling" by Camper Van Beethoven

UGLINESS
For example: that waiter at Veselka with the huge nose, or the teenager with acne at Hot Bagels. Ugly is so cute, it's way better than pretty. Pretty is for Republicans and people who made fun of you in high school.
See also: Underpants, Underoos, ünnecessary ümlauts

VANDALISM
When I was a kid in the suburbs I would write my nickname (Sandy) in bubble letters on my binder. Then we moved to the city and I saw all the cute boys writing their nicknames on brick walls in big HUGE bubble letters using a spray can. How cute is that? They love their nicknames so much they have to show the world AND THEY USE BUBBLE LETTERING! Sesk and Tets and Kask and whatever other weird names they gave themselves. The authorities call it vandalism but I call it nickname pride.
See also: Voles, valentines

WEEBLES
Have you ever tried to knock one of these over? Sure, they wobble. They wobble like a motherfucker. But good luck trying to knock one ever. They're too cute. You could hit one with a bazooka and it would just spring back up and be like, "Me so horny."
See also: "Windy" by the Association, The Wind in the Willows

XAVIER ROBERTS' SIGNATURE ON CABBAGE PATCH KIDS' BUTTS
When I was a kid this was the equivalent of a $5,000 Louis Vuitton/Takahashi Murakami handbag, and the signature on the butt sealed the deal. I used to trace my finger along the embroidery of it like prayer beads. If your dad was a cheapskate and got you a knockoff, you were shunned.
See also: XOXO, Xanadu, xylophone players in grade-school bands

YOU!
Guess what, person? You're about as cute as they come. OK, maybe I'm not crazy about the smell and I'm not so into your tattoos, but remember the last time someone was really into you? They thought everything about you was cute. They thought that zit on the tip of your nose was funny. They loved the way you tried to sound all business-like on the phone. They even thought it was cute when you had stomach flu. No matter how bad things get, NEVER forget how cute you are.
See also: The Yummy Fur, youthful rebellion

ZOWIE BOWIE
That's what David and Angie Bowie named their kid, and he is probably about 37 times cuter than Ziggy Marley. His eyes are the size of dinner plates and his full name is Duncan "Joey" Zowie Heywood Jones. Zowie is, like, 33 now and goes by Joe Jones, which is pretty boring. Actually, fuck it. He's not cute anymore.
See also: Ziggy, Zoodles, zebra ponies