If there ever was anything cuter than a penguin, nature snuffed it out long ago. All arguments to the contrary crumble upon impact with this photo’s crushing cuteness. Unlike sharks, wolves, and hippos, who are sometimes adored, sometimes loathed, and require extravagant public relations campaigns to maintain the favor of the masses, penguins could withstand a thousand years of Washington smear campaigns, after which the treasury would be busted and penguins would still lead the ranks of cute animal incumbency. National Geographic has, over the years, been able to whip the public into a frenzy of adoration whenever it suits them. Penguins never get old.
But it was not until March of the Penguins that the penguin epoch truly began. With its flawless cinematography and sentimental narration, the film overdosed the audiences with cuteness, a cuteness so overwhelmingly adorable that few could resist.
March of the Penguins was the atom-bomb of penguin cuteness that changed the world as we know it today. Now all bets are off. Anything can happen. Cute levels are off the charts, and studies show that our thirst for cuteness doubles every eighteen months. The next era’s cuteness will be so advanced that the cuteness of tomorrow may be unrecognizable by today’s standard. This mutative process, known to researchers as “cutation” has proven, just like the advent of electricity and nuclear weapons, that there’s no going back.
Though March of the Penguins began this new age, it was only later events that heralded the true impact of the movie. After all, the entire movie, from start to finish, was full of penguins. Nothing but penguins. Hundreds of penguins, thousands of penguins, were on the screen, all at the same time. How do you out-cute a movie of this sensational proportion? What could possibly be cuter than a thousand-penguins-per-minute?
The answer: a single tap-dancing penguin.
The producers of the movie Happy Feet, about a tap-dancing penguin and his friends, saw clearly what March of the Penguins had provoked, and set to work. In their own covert Los Alamos, they were not daunted by the appearance that March of the Penguins had attained maximum cuteness and, after many long hours in an underground bunker, emerged with a solution in the form of this equation:
MC + MC + MCX = IC
That is, Maximum Cuteness plus Maximum Cuteness plus Maximum Cuteness times a bunch more cute equals Infinite Cuteness. Whereas the old guard saw Maximum Cuteness as the stopping point, the new guard sees Maximum Cuteness as the beginning of Infinite Cuteness. To the layman, this means that cuteness can be multiplied exponentially simply by stacking forms of cuteness on each other. Thus, if penguins have a cute factor of 100, and tap dancing has a cute factor of 87, and a penguin with friends has a cute factor of 164, then cute factors quickly become out of hand, astronomical, and potentially dangerous.
I will here illustrate some of the potential cutations that await us in the decades to come:
1) There are low-tech methods available that do not require the intervention of laboratories and NSF funds. One simple method of exponentially increasing penguin cuteness would be to dress the penguins in the skins of other cute animals, such as the koala or the puppy. Thousands of puppies could be killed and skinned, enough to outfit an entire penguin colony, resulting in a rhapsody of cuteness the likes of which the world has never seen.
2) If a penguin is cute, then a penguin with two heads is cuter. In ten years the technology should allow us to breed these in great number and introduce them into the wild in Antarctica. Former single-headed penguins can then safely be harvested and used as meat.
3) After a certain amount of time, cute inflation will take place, rendering the two-headed penguins obsolete, after which they can be replaced with seven-headed penguins. The formula is clear: add more heads to achieve greater cuteness. However, there is a maximum number of heads a penguin body of this size can bear, probably between twelve and eighteen, which brings up the next advance in penguin technology.
4) The more heads you add, the greater the load on the penguin body. Well, some say, just make the penguins bigger, then you can add more and more heads. But this will not work, because making an animal larger reduces its cute factor, eliminating the gains we have worked so hard to accomplish in the first place.
Let’s look at the problem this way: Say you have a 10x10x10 room. Given the natural size of the penguin, there are only so many penguins you can fit in that space, probably between 150 to 200, perhaps 400 if you break their bones first. There is a sort of critical mass of cuteness available with penguins at their present size. And because enlarging penguins will detract from their cuteness, the only solution to this obstacle is this: shrink the penguins.
It is a proven scientific law that small animals are cuter than large animals (excepting the aberration of the panda), and because future technological advances should allow us to shrink penguins to any size we like, the theoretically cute room of 200 penguins might be filled with thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of multi-headed adorable penguins the size of insects. A frenzied colony of cuteness.
Given their new size though, it would be cruel to force them to march the incredible distances they require to eat fish (or, in the new future, plankton), so the only moral solution is to breed them with new transportation options, shown above. In the most charming of all futures, massive columns of marching penguins will tear through forests and tundras, digesting everything in their path (to lovingly feed to their children later), leaving a swath of cuteness in their wake.