The Disease and the Cure

www.rotten.com and www.ratemykitten.com

reviewed by Blythe Hurley

Want to find out once and for all just how sick you really are? Have I got the website for you.

Everyone wants to think they’re among the few people who don’t slow down and stare along with the god-damned rubberneckers when someone’s blood and guts have been smeared all over the highway. But be honest with yourself: except for some very rare individuals, human beings just can’t help being fascinated with blood, guts, mayhem, etc. I can’t explain it, and I ain’t proud of it, but I do know it’s true. We’re just a nosey, gossipy species, fascinated by the gore and tragedy of the world, and not as removed from our simian cousins as we’d like to pretend. When something nasty happens, most of us really want to sneak a peek.

That being said, everyone has their limits for this kind of material—and you will definitely find yours if you take the time to look around on www.rotten.com. Here for your viewing pleasure are more disgusting-yet-fascinating images than you could ever have hoped to find in one place. But take care, gentle reader, for you will be utterly disgusted with yourself once you discover how much time you can spend looking at this stuff. You sick bastard.

Want to see what someone’s hand looks like when it’s trapped in a meat grinder? Be my guest. How about the inside of a car in which someone’s blown their head off with a shotgun? Heck, Rotten’s got several to choose from. How about a photo of a man with elephantiasis of the nuts circa 1870? Or a gentleman with a jar of jelly and a potato stuck up his ass? (I am not making this up.) Yes, all this and more is waiting for you, if you’re willing to stoop to looking at it. Welcome to the world’s biggest freak show combined with a mortician’s private photo collection, presented with the unashamed zeal of a 12-year-old boy crossed with a dog who’s found something nice and dead to roll in.

Of course many of these images bring up the question of authenticity, and I’m sure there’s a large proportion of fakes, Photoshopped and otherwise, though I don’t have the expertise to distinguish for myself. I imagine it must be somewhat easy to simulate stunningly gruesome images with a tube of fake blood and a pile of

Photo: www.rotten.com

ground beef. It begs the question:why would anyone want to fake these things? But you can’t ask that without asking yourself why you want to look at them, now can you? What exactly is wrong with you, anyway?

A trip through Rotten’s many pages can take a while given the convoluted design of the site. The home screen is a 16-page list of links to horrible things; be prepared to be bounced back up to the top of the list every time you retreat in horror from one of the images—a minor irritation. Some of these links simply lead you to more long, long lists of atrocities. Along the way you’ll come across some old friends that have been making their way around the world via email for years. Remember "celebrity mugshots"? Ah yes, Pee Wee Herman, Marv Albert, and Bill Gates, among others, pictured here in all their post–public–humiliation glory. And recall that short film of the monkey who sticks his finger up his own bum, sniffs it, and falls off his branch? You’ll want to watch that one again just for old times sake.


Mixed in with the everyday horrors are a few images purported to have been taken in the hot spots of the world (the Left Bank, Bosnia, Algeria) or ripped from the headlines (Georgia’s Tri-State Crematoria)—as if you didn’t already feel bad enough about yourself for looking at all this. At least with the other stuff you can hope that it’s fake; in these cases, even if the individual examples in front of you happen to be counterfeits, you know these things really happened. And now you’re killing time at work by looking at pictures of the aftermath. You really are a sick puppy, aren’t you?
Photo: www.rotten.com
Photo: www.rotten.com Photo: www.rotten.com
There’s also a surprising amount of simple-minded, strangely innocent content on Rotten, given the vulgar morbidity of the majority of it. Sadly, this too will make you feel bad about yourself: after all, how many times should a seemingly normal adult laugh upon being presented with a funny picture of animals having sex? Apparently, at least in this reviewer’s personal case, every single time. These sections in particular will leave you with no illusions as to just how childish you still are at heart. There’s even a slide show of
Photo: www.rotten.com
anatomically correct snowmen; while I know this is meant to be smarmy, it can’t help but come off as innocent in this twisted land of "magnificent, five-foot long fecal impactions" and "traditional dick-in-mouth atrocities."
Photo: www.rotten.com

There’s only one thing on this site that I have to say actually offended me (as opposed to disgusting me, or nauseating me, or giving me a tension headache, or making me question my own humanity). It’s the several shots of naked old ladies, complete with boobs down to the knees and more wrinkles than a sharpei puppy. But maybe this is just my own Achilles heel talking. I don’t play chicken with railroad trains, and I’m certain that I’m too smart to ever wind up with a jar of jelly up my ass—but if all goes as planned, I will be an old lady someday. When that time comes, I can only hope the world will have evolved enough to know that it’s wrong to put pictures of naked old broads on the Internet. For shame, America.


Rotten has a few links that I haven’t explored yet, mainly because 1) you have to pay for them, and 2) while looking at shots of cannibalism and autopsies-in-progress (not to mention writing this article) jibes just fine with my work persona, I don’t think I can justify surfing porn at my employer’s expense. Secretly, though, I have to admit that I’m a little afraid of the type of pornography these people might be pushing. Visitors to this site are forced to acknowledge that they’re sick enough to look at all this stuff—but the purveyors of Rotten actually collect it and pay for the bandwidth to share it with the world! This is their contribution to human creativity—dead babies, people with
Photo: www.rotten.com

axes in their heads, and farm animals trying to have sex with rusted–out machinery, to name just a few of their specialties. Do I really want to explore their take on (human) sexuality? I’m proud to say that my answer is a firm no (at least until I can remember to look it up from home).

I think everyone has their own breaking point with Rotten. You can look at this stuff for hours—hiding behind your hands and peeking through your fingers, feeling bad about it and not stopping—but sooner or later there’s something that breaks you. For me it was the video of animal experimentation on pigs; our own army burned them alive with blowtorches to study the effects of burn wounds on American soldiers. It’s horrifying and heart breaking—exactly what you’d expect. After watching it, my hands were shaking a little and my brain felt . . . wrong. I didn’t like other people, I didn’t like being a person, and I didn’t like being myself.

It’s a strange but true fact that it was Rotten itself that provided me with the cure for this self-inflicted illness. Close to the end of their long outside links page (something that in itself has gifted me with such gems as www.bonsaikitten.com and www.redmeat.com, the online home of the "Red Meat" comic strip) I found something called www.ratemykitten.com. As I stand before you today I’m not ashamed to say this: Hi, my name is Blythe, and I’m a ratemykitten.com-aholic. I’m sure my boss, given the choice, would rather I look at porn, since it would probably take up less of my time.

You’ve all seen these kinds of things out there on the Internet: there are the sites where you say whether people are hot or not, whether people are goth or not. There are sites for rating lawns and sites for rating people’s bowel movements (something I can’t bring myself to look at for more than the time it takes to hit the back button, despite spending hours on Rotten). Ratemykitten is exactly what it sounds like: a site for rating cute, fuzzy, adorable little kittens.


If you are not a big fan of mind-shatteringly cute things, you’ll only need to visit this site for a moment, just to get the taint of Rotten off you. It won’t take very long—in fact, you’ll be amazed by how quickly you feel like a normal person again. Kittens have that effect on us. In fact, for frequent Web surfers, it’s a useful site to keep in mind—after all, Rotten isn’t the only online experience that can make your skin crawl and your conscience beg for forgiveness.

For those of your who do like kittens (and I know there are more of you out there than are willing to admit it), I once again have to tell you to beware. This site won’t leave you feeling as if you’ve lost some part of your humanity, but it does have the frightening potential to take up more of your time than those sick photos on Rotten ever did. This won’t happen to everyone. Some of you out there just aren’t all that vulnerable to cuteness, and to you I say more power to ya. But if you’re like me, and you just can’t resist cute little kittens, you might want to think twice before visiting ratemykitten.com.

Photo: www.ratemykitten.com

Photo: www.ratemykitten.com
Photo: www.ratemykitten.com Photo: www.ratemykitten.com
If it were only cute pictures, it would be bad enough. But the site offers a handful of little toys that make it even more irresistible. After rating each kitten (on a scale of 1–10) you get to see what their average rating has been, comparing your own taste in kittens to the world’s. You can add your own comments about the photos; many of the images have running commentaries from other kitten-rating addicts. New kittens are added more than once a day, so you’ll never run out of cute new pictures to look at. You can upload images of your own cats and than track their progress as they’re rated and commented upon by the world
Photo: www.ratemykitten.com

1 of the "Bottom 20" kittens...

(please vote "10" for my baby at www.ratemykitten.com/?kitten=16119). You can view the top 20 and bottom 20 kittens, and track them as their ratings are updated throughout the day. Or, if you want kitten overload, you can look at the gallery, with all possible photos included (there are literally thousands).

For those of you who, unlike this disturbed reviewer, cannot deal with hours of unadulterated cute sweetness, you might have to return to Rotten every once in awhile to cleanse your palate, so to speak. Heck, these may be the only two sites you’ll ever need! Oh, unless you’re using the Internet for legitimate work or looking for actual information—in which case, what the hell are you doing reading this review anyway?

Note to readers: The images from www.rotten.com used in this review were chosen specifically because they are among the less graphic ones available—hence, they may seem a little tame in comparison to the reviewer’s descriptions. If you can’t stomach these, I advise you not to visit the actual site. Seriously.

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Copyright©2002 by Blythe Hurley.

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