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09 January 2005

Subversive skeletal systems


I enjoyed this study of cartoon characters when it was first being linked, but now, reading Marina Warner's Bloated essay from Signs & Wonders, I come to see just how subversive it is:

The visual lexicon of American identity has changed emphasis; bigness still defines it, but a bigness grown pillowy and flaccid and fluffy and fat like baby flesh - the aesthetic of the animated cartoon character writ large over aspects of the culture far beyond the world of entertainment where it began. The new aesthetic seems to me part of a generalised cult of childishness, fake infantilism...

Disney squishiness has filled out the streamlining of the automobile: no more sharp edges, no crests or spikes or tails. Even computer mice have turned bulbous.

Design that reveals an inner spine or underlying grid doesn't exorcise the appeal of the blob. Armature, as inner structure or exoskeleton, has come to define evil: the Terminator is a giant cockroach. Meanwhile the kind of shop that recurs every block has its window heaped with Care Bears, with bionic dinosaurs like Barney and pneumatic Beanie Babies, so popular the stores announce 'Maximum of six per customer'.

Posted at 08:09 PM in Illusion | Permalink


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