Internet gossip, televised nudity and HBO’s big mistake

Indignation! Scandal! It feels like part of our nature to be drawn to these emotions, and I’ve often wondered how guilty I should feel for being so entranced by them other people’s business. There is an argument for the virtues of gossip; When I share information with others, I feel closer to them, like we are both part of something. The content of the gossip also appeals to me, as my interlocutor and I are currently anthropologists going through evidence and analyzing what the information might say about the issues. Both in its exchanges between me and others, and in our inevitable discussion about others, gossip makes me feel less alone and more human.

But then of course there are the downsides, especially as we expand our scale. Gossip encourages the mob mentality that causes us to leave critical thoughts at the door for a quick emotional high at the expense of others. It leads us to put celebrities on pedestals only to ruthlessly tear them down (er, #FreeBritney). There’s an inevitable connection between art and gossip, something the writers here in the art department are well acquainted with. As they open their books, enter theaters and attend concerts, they are aware of the shifting, often reactive, culture surrounding the art they consume. I challenged art writers to think about how art interprets gossip and how gossip shapes our interpretation of art. The result? A scandalous, exciting exploration of all the art-related things that make our jaws drop and our eyebrows raise – along with answers to the pressing question why we do it. Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to tell a friend.

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