Leave a Comment
Remember last November? I know! It happened, guys. There really was a time before this time. And, that time included something that brought millions of people a lot of joy: Baby Yoda. With that tiny character's protection quickly becoming the focus of The Mandalorian, fans (and even people who hadn't watched the show but who had caught Baby Yoda fever) wanted as much of the cute, mysterious character as they could get. But, with us now in between Seasons 1 and 2 of the Star Wars series, have you ever wondered why so many of us became so obsessed with Baby Yoda? Well, one evolutionary psychologist believes he has the answer.
Dr. Daniel J. Kruger, who's an evolutionary psychologist (meaning he tries to explain how human evolution has shaped our mental functions and behavior), was asked about the large amount of public fascination with Baby Yoda by Rolling Stone, and Dr. Kruger had a very clear answer for where he thinks the appeal of that old ass baby comes from. A lot of it, very simply, comes with how the character looks. Here's what he had to say:
Across species that have parental care, we see these really common features. In [media], these features are becoming increasing [sic] exaggerated in cartoon characters. Take the My Little Pony’s of today and the Eighties. Characters of today have even more exaggerated neonatal characteristics. This makes them even cuter to us. In terms of getting people’s interest, I think [The Mandalorian] hit a homerun.
So, what are these "exaggerated neonatal characteristics" of which Dr. Kruger speaks? The one he mentioned should be obvious to not only Baby Yoda lovers, but anyone who truly has had the opportunity to watch old My Little Pony cartoons and the new cartoons based on the same characters: large eyes. I mean, just scroll back up to the top of this article (or stare at that Baby Yoda poster you have on your wall) and really investigate how much facial real estate is taken up by the eyeballs of that tiny creature. I'm no math person (OK, fine. I'm no mathematician), but that face has to be at least 80% eye, right?
If you're not convinced that large eyes are something that really get us going when thinking about whether or not something is cute, or that the media is making sure we find characters cute by over exaggerating that feature as much as possible now, just take a look at those famous cartoon equines that Dr. Kruger mentioned, in the 1980s versus now:
Oh. My. WORD. Such big eyes...I have never wanted to own a cartoon horse and put a party hat on it any more than I do right now. While actual babies might not have eyes the size of Baby Yoda, many cultures do associate large eyes with youthfulness and beauty, which is why so many folks spend a lot of time applying false eyelashes, eyeliner and the like, hoping that it will make their beady, old-person eyes look bigger, brighter and more like they're less close to death.
While Baby Yoda does have the large eyeness required to be considered cute in spades, The Child also has something else which my research says is a common feature of those newly born. The character is mostly bald, but there are also a great amount of fine, (I'm assuming) soft hairs covering most of the head and ears. In newborn humans, this hair, called lanugo, can cover the scalp, forehead, cheeks, shoulders, back and even the limbs of a baby, but it usually falls off within the first few weeks.
Aside from these human characteristics which helped so many people fall in love with Baby Yoda, there is something even more obvious, which Dr. Kruger was quick to point out, and that's the fact that pretty much everyone who loves Star Wars loves Yoda. And, when have we, as a people, not loved tiny versions of bigger things? I dare you to look at one of those hotel room service-sized bottles of ketchup, for instance, and not coo with adoration.