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“That’s Cute” (otherwise known as “That’s Adorable”) is a sarcastic expression used to patronize or dismiss someone’s self-complacency or boastful statement, similar to the phrase “bitch, please.” It is typically used to juxtapose the capabilities or accomplishments of two comparable subjects, as seen in image macro series like Unimpressed Astronaut and Condescending Wonka.
The phrase “that’s cute” has been used as a colloquial expression for many years prior to its online adaptations. The first Urban Dictionary entry was submitted by user sweetsean93 on February 2nd, 2010, defining the phrase as a sarcastic declaration used in response to an annoying comment or sophomoric statement.
Usage in Image Macros
On June 5th, 2011, Redditor eps101 submitted a post titled “Oh, Charlie” to the /r/pics subreddit, featuring an image macro of Charlie Sheen bragging about the amount of drugs he had consumed, followed by a photograph of writer Hunter S. Thompson with the caption “You’re adorable” (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post received over 12,700 up votes and 700 comments.
On March 10th, 2012, FunnyJunk user ghostytrickster submitted a post titled “That’s Cute,” featuring an image macro comparing Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Kony to the deceased German Nazi Party leader Adolph Hitler (shown below, left). On May 30th, Redditor bekbekbekaw submitted a post titled “That’s cute” to the /r/funny subreddit, featuring an image macro of Miley Cyrus referring to herself as a “stoner” accompanied by the photo of Hunter S. Thompson from Redditor eps101’s image macro (shown below, right).
On August 31st, Redditor cockpunch25 submitted an image macro to the /r/funny subreddit, featuring a photograph of pop star Justin Bieber complaining about growing up with divorced parents, followed by a picture of rapper Eminem with the caption “That’s cute” (shown below, left). Within two months, the post received over 6,800 up votes and 315 comments. On October 28th, the Cheezburger site Memebase published an image macro comparing the rapper Drake with the character Walt from Breaking Bad (shown below, right).
The phrase is often used in the Unimpressed Astronaut image macro series, in which a photograph of an astronaut walking on the moon is captioned with grievances about long-distance travel followed by a dismissive statement (shown below, left). The image macro series Advantages of Science uses the similar expression “That’s cool” in response to biblical understandings of natural phenomenon (shown below, middle). The phrase is also commonly used in the Condescending Wonka advice animal series, in which a screen capture of Willy Wonka (played by Gene Wilder) from the 1971 musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is captioned with patronizing and sarcastic statements.