In 1854, Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden,
his chronicle of his time spent puttering about in the woods, that the
advent of the telegraph was unlikely to make us much better informed:
"We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some
weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak
through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess
Adelaide has the whooping cough." Thoreau could be a bit of a downer.
I thought about watching this while seeing the curious spectacle at
opening day at Fenway Park, wherein a 5-year-old boy named Joshua
Sacco was brought out to the field to offer his rendition of the speech
Kurt Russell gives in the movie Miracle to inspire the
1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team:
As inspiring speeches go, it's OK, if not spectacular. Delivered by a
5-year-old, it is fairly cute. This is why young Joshua's original
from last July has garnered nearly 3 million views. That puts him in
the second tier of YouTube kid stars -- he's no "David
After Dentist" (55 million hits), but he did well enough to get on Ellen
DeGeneres' show, which is impressive.
Mortensen in The Return of the King. Show me a
5-year-old doing Shakespeare's Henry V at
Agincourt from memory, and then you've got something. But he has now probably reached the limits of people's interest in this particular routine. So we'll cruelly cast Joshua aside, and look for the next small child on whom we can bestow 15 minutes of fame, our appetite for children doing grown-up things never to be sated.
As Jim Windolf noted in Vanity Fair last December, we're positively drowning in cute. Otherwise sane adults spend hours at sites like the aptly named Cute Overload looking at pictures of kittens and bunnies. The cute craze is what makes some people make the leap from "Wouldn't it be great to put Joshua's cute 'Miracle" speech on YouTube?" to "Wouldn't it be great to get that kid who does the 'Miracle' speech to come perform it on Opening Day?" The answer to the first question is yes, but the answer to the second question is, no, not really. There's only so much cute one society can tolerate.
-- Paul Waldman