Vinson Cunningham: “Because life is boring, and there wasn’t always such a thing as Netflix, and—let’s face it—good entertainment is way too hard to find, Saartjie Baartman, a young South African slave woman, was brought first to England and later to France, where in the early nineteenth century crowds gathered with the sole intention of looking at her butt. […] It was large, Ms. Baartman’s behind, astonishingly big, and for a public held rapt by several spells – phrenology, white supremacy, and, in all seriousness, probably just a crippling amount of boredom—it proved irresistible, if only for a moment.”

Elyse Graham: “One of the notable online trends of 2015 entailed people making videos of cats being scared by cucumbers. It turns out that cats are scared of snakes, which cucumbers resemble—so if you surreptitiously put a cucumber near a cat and wait for the cat to notice, you’ll be treated to a nice little freak-out. The trick is cruel, of course; as animal experts warned, it stresses the cat out. Then again, deriving enjoyment from a cat’s suffering (Katzen-Schadenfreude?) is a form of entertainment that goes back for centuries.”

Yo Zushi defends the indefensible: “Critics may howl when something deemed trashy captures the public imagination – for instance, the music of Ed Sheeran, who recently topped the charts with his album Divide, despite warnings from reviewers about its ‘flagrant sense of scheming’ and ‘deeply uncool whiteness’ – but our relationship with culture is a personal matter. There’s no shame in loving what a bunch of journalists have decided is a bit rubbish.”


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