A 50-second clip has been floating around the internet for a few days leaving distress and confusion in its wake. It’s from an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and involves the Kardashian sisters close-reading the dictionary.
Kim explains: “Kanye always wants people to be more positive; so he came up with this little dictionary game. We pick a page in the dictionary and everyone has to underline the positive words.”
The video cuts to the sisters and Kanye sitting around the dining table, iPhones facedown, brand-new dictionaries and highlighters in hand. What follows is disorienting, and strangely mesmerizing:
“K, did anyone highlight barrel?” Kim asks. “No.” “Barter?” A few yeses. Then tension, confusion; Kanye asks Khloé why she doesn’t consider barter a positive-sounding word. In the background Kourtney quips, “I thought it was a nice practice.”
The family then proceeds to debate whether basic is a positive word: “I didn’t put bas-ic,” says Kanye, acidly. “Yeah, why’d you put basic?” Khloé asks Kim as the camera cuts away from her yawn.
But you’re not yawning; you’re still captivated. There’s something disquieting yet soothing about their debate — what does positive mean to the Kardashians? What does it mean to me, and the 3 million other people who watched this video? What was Kim trying to tell us by highlighting basic?
“This always sparks these kind of conversations!” Kanye proclaims 40 seconds in. “People get into, like, parenting and this and that. It’s a fire board game, like when you’re bored.”
And could it be that the game Kanye invented is surprisingly profound? If you’re like me, in your dazed state you might decide that it is indeed “a fire board game” and resolve to suggest it instead of Scrabble at Christmas this year.