A Blog by Jonathan Low


Dec 13, 2015

This Guy Searches Amazon For the Worst Things You Can Buy

The only thing hard to believe is that he is the only one doing this. JL

Drew Pick reports in Motherboard:

A blog called The Worst Things for Sale plumbs the depths of the crappiest or most unethical shit Amazon has to offer. Things that are pointless, or offensive, or things that just make you wonder why someone would exchange real money for them.
Anyone who’s spent enough time on the internet has probably run into Drew Fairweather’s work, whether it be the long-running comic Toothpaste for Dinner, or Married to the Sea, a collaboration with Fairweather’s wife Natalie Dee that imposes funny captions on vintage illustrations (this is a lame description, but trust me). Fairweather is one of the first people, to my knowledge, to really turn being a clever person online into an actual enterprise. He’s been around practically since I first logged on, enduring countless ripoffs of his work over the years, and showing a commitment to his creations that is rare.
But it’s his most recent project that’s probably my favorite: a blog called The Worst Things for Sale, where Fairweather plumbs the depths of the crappiest or most unethical shit Amazon has to offer. Things that are pointless, or offensive, or things that just make you wonder why someone would exchange real money for them.
In the spirit of the holiday season, where a staggering amount of money is spent on stuff made out of plastic, I interviewed Fairweather by email about The Worst Things for Sale. In both his creative output and online presence, Fairweather is alternately irreverently funny and deeply cynical, so I was curious to see which way his answers would go. I wasn’t disappointed.
Motherboard: What inspired you to start the blog? Was there one terrible thing that set everything in motion?Drew Fairweather: I was posting links to Twitter of some terrible things I'd found online and realized it would be more fun to write in a longer format, as a blog. So I did that, in 2012, and it's continued daily ever since.
What are some of your favorite horrible things you've posted?The Mac'n'cheese button is a microcosm of what I'm getting at. You pay five dollars to have a button which connects to your Wi-Fi, and when you press it, Amazon delivers the product to your house. There are dozens of these, for laundry detergent, bottled water, trash bags, and so on, but the macaroni button seemed most dystopian.

"The products themselves are a global self-perpetuating emotional and economic problem."

A man in a dormitory overseas tests and assembles small circuit boards. A power plant nearby belches dark anthracite coal-smoke, an integrated-circuit technician in the next building over etches a silicon wafer with hydrofluoric acid in a clean-room for sixty cents an hour. All this, so you can press this button once, instead of click your computer mouse or tap your iPad three times. For macaroni.
The response I got to the button was illuminating. On Facebook, Twitter, and email, people responded, "But Macaroni and Cheese is awesome."
George Takei’s official cologne, “Eau My.” Image: The Worst Things for Sale
How do you find them? What's your search process like?They're all on Amazon. Nearly every consumer good can be bought on Amazon. So the greatest number of the worst things for sale will naturally be there. It's not a matter of finding novelty products or seeking the platonically-ideal "worst" object that exists. They have to reveal something about people.
A piece of plastic is a piece of plastic, but there's someone slamming two billion dollars' worth of surplus capital into a bank account because of it, and there are two million workers in Asia who have to make the product for pennies. There's the person who buys it and the person who gets it as a gift. There's the man or woman at the store who has to put it on the shelf, and someone who has to take it off the shelf at the warehouse and mail it. Who are they? What do they think? What does it mean for our future as a species?
Given this, sometimes a sink that shoots a colored beam of light out of the hole is more interesting than a Halloween costume for a dog, or whatever. So it's a process of thinking about the implications of objects. I'm sure it would look like I was doing nothing if you videotaped it.
Have you ever bought one of these things as a gift? Would you recommend any for an office Secret Santa to horrify and alienate your coworkers?I think it would be morally or at least ethically wrong of me to buy most of what's on the site. Besides, Secret Santa is a machine that turns twenty dollars into disappointment.
Does a tiny part of you think it's sort of wonderful that these horrible things exist, and that someone out there presumably owns them?Absolutely not. The issue I'm trying to get at with this body of writing is that our happiness has been pulled from us bit by bit, by industry, by labor, by law, and is being sold back to us at a profit. I have empathy for the seven billion people in the world that try to quiet their own sadness by purchasing products. The products themselves are a global self-perpetuating emotional and economic problem.
Which one has made you the angriest? Like, want to throw your laptop out the window?I don't get angry at products. They didn't ask to be made or sold. But the people who perpetrate medical scams are the worst. Homeopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, anti-vaxxers, shitheads, nuts, and supplementers are preying on a huge and vulnerable class of people here in America.
If you can't afford medical care or insurance, or you're not making logical decisions due to being acutely or chronically ill, these guys step in and take your money. We've got moms feeding bleach to autistic kids and people taking cyanide pills to treat cancer. I'd love to write about these different scams every day, but most people would prefer to laugh at pants that look like you've shit yourself, so it's a balance.


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