In Marovich’s article she gives discusses the cute, but what I want to talk about is cute’s often overlooked step-sister, the ugly, and how maybe the two ideas are not so opposite. Marovich asserts that cute objects works as talismans, holding a kind of power over us in that they make us want to look at them. And this article says that cute things make us want to look at them because they look like babies, which we are genetically predisposed to want to take care of.
However, ugly objects can also function as talismans in how they have a habit of attracting our gaze, but for different reasons.
One reason we enjoy ugly objects is because we tend to find them humorous. I am not sure there is a biological reason we do as in how cute things remind us babies and I am not going to try to explain why. However, for me (and I think most people would agree) there is something about ugly things that make you want to laugh sometimes.
Take the Stoned Fox meme, which is a taxedermied fox gone wrong. However, after posting pictures of the fox on Kragslist the maker of Stoned Fox soon found out that her creation had become a famous internet meme. This is interesting because Marovich even asserts that taxerdermied animals are unsettling. So why would millions of people share pictures of a particularly unnerving example of one? Because it’s funny. I think there is a kind of value in a humorous ugliness.
According to Web MD laughter may even make you healthier. Maybe the fact that we laugh at ugly objects fills a need in humans, like Marovich suggests that cat cafés do.
Another reason we like ugly things is that they are just interesting to look at in a sublime way.
The above picture is The Ugly Duchess by Quentin Matsys. It is considered his most famous painting. I think it is because it is novel to see someone that is not conventionally beautiful in a painting. It’s so out of the ordinary it is refreshing. And it is probably one of my favorite paintings.
So to wrap up, there is a power in ugly objects to grab out attention that is not unlike the power of cute objects.