Down With Cuteness! Cities Must Be Boring.

A Satire

Throughout the course of history designers and artists have destroyed cities by making them fun, playful, cute, and spectacles for tourists who bring in lots of money, help diversify industries, and stimulate economic growth. Nothing could be more gross than their vapid attempts at creating iconic places and character-saturated spaces for people to enjoy or provoke deep thoughts and conversations about the city.

Examples of Cuteness

Swings, interesting bus stops, and video game crosswalks are just the beginning. Next we’ll have slides, hop scotches on sidewalks, mini parks that take up valuable asphalt for cars to park all day, and even ball pits that allow people to connect with each other. Just check out this gross example of cuteness connecting people, “These aren’t real teeth,” says a young man who shows his dentures to an middle-aged lady, who responds by taking out her dentures and saying, “I have a flipper tooth.”

Cute is Dangerous

Don’t be fooled by these attempts to bring joy and provide culture on what was a perfectly functional and well urban-designed intersection. What we need is more attention on the car. Pedestrians and their cute cities are annoying to drivers who want to get somewhere fast and can’t be bothered with more the healthy-lifestyle choices of walkers.

We don’t care if there are laws and clearly marked paths protecting fellow, delicate un-armored humans who have to play frogger with metal-machined centric cities. Or that a recent mandate implemented in New York City lowering the speed limit from 30mph to 25mph reduces the likelihood of killing a person by eight times if they are struck by a car. Cuteness contributes to pedestrians injuries in crosswalks and it is their fault for not getting out of the way.

Scaling Cuteness is Impossibly Expensive

Besides, play, fun, cute additions to the city are expensive and time consuming for technically trained urbanists whose main focus is utility, not fun.

Imagine a city where every bus stop had swings, where crosswalks were painted funky colors, and each corner featured a different game for people to meet their neighbors. The costs for these small additions would be ridiculous and might even lead to more expenses.

What if rope and boards like the Red Swing Project were added to other places, using paint transformed an entire community in Rio and the streets of North Philadelphia or much like the exercise you get running up a musical staircase you could squat thirty times to get a train ticket? Think about the costs!

Not to mention the side-effects of cuteness promoting activity and abandoning sedentary lifestyles. According to WebMD, “a growing body of research shows that long periods of inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.”

What would happen to the all the money that the medical industry would lose if people were in good enough shape to walk eighty-foot crosswalk signals in less than thirty-seconds?

Corporations Are Evil

The fact that corporations or organizations with funny names like SoulPancake or Rebar are leading the way, demonstrating alternative ways to use the city, and spending all their money, time, and efforts just goes to show how selfish they are. We all know that their main goal is to market to us and sell us stuff. The last thing we need from them is to provide social value.

Real Danger of Cities

Cutesification of cities is a juvenile attempt at resolving the real danger of cities for their residents. Nothing is more dangerous than the dude without a car who gleefully skips through zebra painted crosswalks preventing drivers from saving five minutes on their daily commute. Or older people who aren’t able to navigate perfectly urban designed eight-lane roads in ten seconds. Or the teenagers who safely chill at playful bus stops that attracts lots of attention and promotes eyes on the street.

People who can share thoughtful insights about cities, who can look at the bigger picture, and think about the effect of cuteness on a larger scale should give more lip service to ordered, planned, cut-and-dry city life where corporate campaigns stop causing unpredictability and we halt opportunities for people to connect. Cities are born fun and safe or they are not, trying to change that is futile.

I’m an urbanist and I like cuteness! If you want to see more cuteness you can check out my tumblr or follow my cuteness on twitter.