Monday, May 15, 2017

#55 - Cartoons vs. Kittens vs. ULTRA CUTE KITTENS

Every so often the debate flares up; are we becoming dumber as a culture than we used to be?

I have offered my opinion a number of times in the past. My opinion has not changed. I say no, we are not getting dumber.

Those who believe we are getting dumber usually respond with countless examples, from the internet, of people doing dumb things, saying dumb things and, most importantly, recording dumb things and posting those dumb videos to social media.

I always respond the same way; were you around in the 1950’s?

This isn’t really a fair question, since I wasn’t around in the 1950’s either, but it makes my point for me; we are not getting any dumber than we always were. We aren’t getting any smarter either, that’s for sure.  The only thing that has changed is that our state of dumbness is more exposed and out in the open for all to see. Dumbness cannot hide in the modern age. Even if it tries, it will be exposed. Scientific methods of seeking out and analyzing humans true state of mind will not be denied.

I recently ran across the following on

If you're creating a message to educate, inform, or persuade, don't underestimate the power of a well-executed cartoon. A new study suggests if you're trying to convince the public to change their stance on a topic such as wind energy, you may be more successful if you use a cartoon rather than a photograph.”

This is fantastic news. In order to persuade or convince anyone of anything, don’t use a photo. And for the love of god don’t WRITE something. Your best option is to use a cartoon.

My first thought after reading this is; maybe that explains why we are electing cartoon characters to public office. Of course we were always electing cartoon characters, with the exception of John F. Kennedy; he was a Michelangelo sketch, not a cartoon, but the popular image bears about as much resemblance to reality as a cartoon does (okay, fine, people, send me your angry JFK responses).

I think we can do the cartoon advice one better though. I am actually kind of excited about this. If you want to persuade or inform the public, don’t write. Don’t use a photo. Don’t even use a cartoon. Just use kittens.

Everywhere you go, take kittens with you. If you want to convince people that something is bad, show them a sad kitten. Something is good? A happy kitten.

What happens, you might ask, if someone else comes along and out-cutes your kitten? Let’s say you want to convince people that the destruction of the planet’s eco-systems is a bad thing, and you make your point by pantomiming the world (words are too intellectual and ‘elite,’ we only have the attention span for pantomime) and once your audience understands that you are referring to the world, you bring out a sad kitten. Your audience is instantly transformed. They are adamantly opposed to ecosystem destruction. The sad kitten is too much for them. But….

Someone else comes along with the most adorable kitten in the history of adorable kittens, and re-pantomimes the world. Then they pantomime destroying the ozone layer (How do they specify the ozone layer? You have to ask? You’re so behind the emoji zeitgeist!) Then they bring out ULTRA -CUTE KITTEN! No! The audience is convinced! Destruction of the Earth’s eco-systems equals ULTRA-CUTE KITTENS!

Unrealistic, you suggest? The populace is too sophisticated to fall for cute kittens?

Wait a minute….am I proving my original point or arguing against my original point? I’M CONFUSED! Were we always this gullible?

Yes! We were. You don’t believe it? Three words….Snake oil salesmen. That phrase exists because guys used to walk right up to strangers in the street and try to actually sell them….the latest mindless tech gadget…um….sorry, I mean….snake oil.
-Peter Wick
May 15, 2017