• Country: United Kingdom
  • Initial release: November 24, 2017
  • Film Director: Steve Cutts
  • Running Time: 5 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 7.7

In the fast-paced and consumer-driven world we live in, the pursuit of happiness can often feel like an endless rat race. Renowned animator and illustrator, Steve Cutts, captures the essence of this struggle in his thought-provoking short film, “Happiness.” Through his unique animation style and powerful imagery, Cutts provides a scathing critique of the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and consumer culture. In this article, we will dive deep into the themes and artistic choices of “Happiness,” examining how Cutts uses his visual storytelling to shed light on the pitfalls of contemporary society.

The Artistry of Steve Cutts

Before delving into the specific details of “Happiness,” it’s important to understand the artistry behind Steve Cutts’ work. Cutts is a UK-based animator and illustrator known for his diverse and visually striking style. Throughout his career, he has experimented with various techniques, from ink drawings to mixed-media composites, showcasing his versatility as an artist. His ability to seamlessly blend different styles adds depth and complexity to his animations, drawing viewers into his vividly imaginative worlds.

The Concept of the Rat Race

One of the central themes explored in “Happiness” is the concept of the rat race. This term refers to the relentless pursuit of success and material wealth, often at the expense of personal well-being and fulfillment. Cutts cleverly depicts humans as rats in his animation, highlighting the universality of this struggle. By doing so, he emphasizes that the pressures of modern society can reduce individuals to mere cogs in the machine, trapped in a cycle of never-ending competition and consumption.

Critiquing Consumer Culture

Cutts’ scathing critique of consumer culture is evident throughout “Happiness.” He masterfully exposes the ways in which society’s obsession with material possessions and instant gratification can lead to a profound sense of emptiness. The animation highlights the constant bombardment of advertisements and the allure of popular brands, replacing well-known logos with the word “Happiness.” This ironic twist underscores the misguided belief that happiness can be found in external objects, rather than within ourselves.

The Illusion of Love and Pleasure

In “Happiness,” Cutts challenges the notion that love and pleasure can be easily attained. He juxtaposes the French song “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (Love is a rebellious bird) with the chaotic scenes of rats running in a white background. This choice of music serves as a metaphor for the elusive nature of love, suggesting that it cannot be tamed or controlled. By portraying rats frantically searching for love and pleasure, Cutts highlights the desperation and futility of this pursuit.

The Seductive Power of Alcohol

Another aspect of modern society that Cutts tackles in “Happiness” is the seductive power of alcohol. Through clever visual storytelling, he exposes the false promise of happiness that is often associated with alcohol consumption. By replacing famous alcohol brands with the word “Happiness” and labeling them with enticing messages, Cutts unveils the dangerous allure of using substances to escape the realities of life. The animation ultimately exposes the emptiness and temporary nature of such pleasures.

The Pill of Happiness

Cutts also delves into the realm of mental health and the pharmaceutical industry in “Happiness.” He introduces a rat character who turns to medication in search of happiness. The animation showcases a giant bottle labeled “Happiness” containing pills with the name “fluoxetine” – an antidepressant commonly known as Prozac. This satirical portrayal highlights society’s reliance on medication as a quick fix for happiness, despite the potential dangers and limitations of such an approach.

The Allure of Money and the Trap of Work

One of the most potent criticisms in “Happiness” is the portrayal of money as the ultimate source of happiness. Cutts exposes the fallacy of this belief by illustrating the detrimental effects of the pursuit of wealth. The animation shows rats working tirelessly in a crowded subway station, surrounded by signs pointing to “nowhere.” This imagery symbolizes the feelings of aimlessness and dissatisfaction that can arise from a life solely focused on accumulating wealth. Cutts highlights the irony of individuals sacrificing their well-being and personal relationships in the pursuit of financial success.

The Consequences of the Rat Race

Throughout “Happiness,” Cutts vividly depicts the consequences of the rat race on individuals and society as a whole. The animation portrays people drowning in their smartphones, oblivious to the world around them. It showcases the dehumanizing effects of mass consumerism, as individuals become mere objects of desire and consumption. Cutts’ powerful imagery serves as a wake-up call, urging viewers to reflect on the impact of their own actions and the choices they make in pursuit of happiness.

The Role of Intertextuality in “Happiness”

Cutts incorporates intertextuality into his animation, drawing inspiration from various sources to enhance the overall message. He mimics and subverts familiar imagery and advertisements to create a sense of familiarity and discomfort simultaneously. Cutts’ use of intertextuality serves as a commentary on the pervasive influence of media and popular culture in shaping our desires and aspirations.

The Impact of “Happiness”

Since its release, “Happiness” has garnered widespread acclaim and sparked conversations about the detrimental effects of modern society. Cutts’ animation serves as a powerful tool for social critique, encouraging viewers to question their own values and priorities. By depicting the rat race and its consequences in such a vivid and relatable manner, Cutts invites audiences to reflect on their own lives and make conscious choices that prioritize genuine happiness and fulfillment.


Steve Cutts’ “Happiness” is a thought-provoking and visually stunning critique of contemporary society. Through his unique animation style and powerful imagery, Cutts exposes the dehumanizing effects of the rat race, consumer culture, and the relentless pursuit of material wealth. His animation serves as a reminder to seek genuine happiness within ourselves and question the societal norms that often lead us astray. “Happiness” leaves a lasting impact, urging viewers to reflect on their own lives and make conscious choices that prioritize true fulfillment over fleeting pleasures.

1 Film Review

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  • One of the most strong reactions in “Happiness” is the depiction of cash as a definitive wellspring of bliss. Cutts uncovered the misrepresentation of this conviction by representing the hindering impacts of the quest for abundance. The liveliness shows rodents working vigorously in a jam-packed metro station, encompassed by signs highlighting “no place.” This symbolism represents the sensations of aimlessness and disappointment that can emerge from a daily existence exclusively centered around collecting riches. Cutts features the incongruity of people forfeiting their prosperity and individual connections chasing monetary achievement.