Three nihilist life lessons I learnt from Hello Kitty


Hello Kitty. Famous for no discernible reason, and criminally useless. The Kardashian of cartoon characters.

It started as a practical joke that quickly got out of hand, but I am now at the stage of wearing Hello Kitty For Men shirts I bought for a lot of money in a pop-up store in Tokyo.

So, clearly, I have given this some thought.

It’s not that I hate Hello Kitty, although I do think she’s awful. I am drawn to Hello Kitty the same way people are to sour milk: it repels you, but you have to smell it. Because when I look beyond the bovine eyes and the non-mouth and that stupid say-nothing do-nothing expression, I see something of myself there.

Specifically three soul-crushing somethings.

Specifically these.

One: If you keep your mouth shut and your expression blank, nobody will know how empty you are inside and they will like you more.

Oooh Hello Kitty is so cute, mommy, can i have the [sippy cup / rucksack / pillow case/ chainsaw] with Hello Kitty on it?

And mommy says yes because there’s not much to object to– just a cat-like outline, not even the hint of a smile. Girlfriend ain’t even got a mouth.  

That dead, inscrutable facade is the true mark of a sociopath. But mommy doesn’t know.

The truth is, it is easy to be disliked and judged negatively for expressing any form of thought or opinion — be it about politics, music or mayonnaise, someone’s bound to think you’re a dick. The path to popularity is to talk as much as you want while saying nothing at all.

Caption your next social media post with #livelaughlove (or is it #lovelivelife?) for likes and hearts. Try #blacklivesmatter for crickets and death threats. If you can successfully portray harmless banality in all your interactions, you can coast along quite well. 

Life is easier if you pretend you’re an idiot. Mommy may not know that (she doesn’t have to pretend to be an idiot). But the Kitty knows. 

Two: You might as well wear the same outfit all the time because no one ever notices.

Describe Hello Kitty’s outfit right now without Googling. Is it a pink dress thing? Is it a shirt and pants combo? Is she ass-naked and showing her no-no parts on that bib you bought for your niece that says I Heart My Gay Uncle?

You don’t know. Or you think you know, but you’re really not sure. Even though you have seen Hello Kitty a bazillion times. That’s because nobody truly pays attention to anything, but most particularly nobody truly pays attention to you.

Not to the new haircut you researched painstakingly before getting. Not to the $175 Carolina Herrera shirt you wore to your birthday dinner. Not to the botox. 

 All that money you’ve ever spent on clothes, hair products, gym —  it’s all been a waste.

And it will always be a waste.


Three: The basis of your human nature is nothing but a collective agreement that is now crumbling to dust before your very eyes.

Back in 2014, the creators of Hello Kitty caused international headlines by claiming that Hello Kitty was, in fact, not a cat. She was a girl. Forget the cat ears and the cat whiskers and the KITTY IN HELLO FUCKING KITTY — the Sanrio company wants to gaslight you into believing that cat has always been a person and I guess we’re all idiots for ever thinking otherwise.

Hello Kitty is attempting to Rachel Dolezal her way into membership into the human condition, by simply declaring herself to be a human. And if Hello Kitty can be a person, what the hell does that make you?

A carbon-based life form. That’s all.

Hello Kitty is not the nihilist anti-hero we want. But she’s sure as fuck the one we deserve. 

The new Alitalia is tofu arrabbiatta

It was the last of the Great 1970s Airline Liveries — dating back to 1967 and crafted by the masters at Landor:

“In 1967 the national airline of Italy-a country celebrated for its fine designers-selected Walter Landor of San Francisco to create a new identity system for its aircraft. Although Alitalia was an international carrier, Landor’s interviews revealed that air travelers thought of it as a small domestic line. Alitalia’s image also needed to be modernized. The graphics had to be adaptable to a complex variety of aircraft, such as 747s and DC-10s, as well as flight uniforms, plane interiors, ticket counters, and printed materials. Landor’s aggressively visible design emphasized the vibrant spirit of the Italian people. The logo is “very classical. Fortunately, it had a vertical stabilizer that was the A in Alitalia…. It’s still [as] good today as it was then.” “

Alitalia’s 1967 livery, bold and colour-blocked, was the first Landor venture into the field of airline design, and since then there is nobody that does a better job at imprinting art into jet metal — from the (previous) Iberia colours through British Airways’ 1980’s scheme up until the months-old New Etihad design (and many, many more).

So when Alitalia’s new Abu Dhabi overlords announced that a rebranding was to be unveiled today, they had some pretty big shoes to fill. And filled them they have —


— with tofu.

I mean, it’s not bad. It retains the logo, the colour scheme, the font, it adds some 3D effects on the tail fin, a bit of pearlescent eggshell off-white at the front. It’s clean and light.

But it’s kinda boring. Italy is never boring. Alitalia has never been boring either, in fact it has been quite a bundle of thrills — constant strikesbankruptcy warnings, mass baggage theft, the occasional crash landing. Flying Alitalia has been, up until now at least, a bit of a ride.

Alright, so I get the need to water it all down, to take the blocky coloured plane and soak it in milk. Not a break with the past, like Iberia did, but more of a — what’s the word? Restyling. They are a nice airline now. They won’t leave you stranded in Tirana and steal your hair straightener.

Which is a good thing. I guess.