Sorry media, Chinese teenagers are not keeping cabbages as pets
Just to be clear, no, Chinese teenagers are not keeping cabbages as pets. But that would have been news to both the Huffington Post and UK's Metro who recently saw photos of Chinese teenagers carrying around cabbages on leashes and assumed they were doing it because they were lonely.
Turns out that none of that is true (the Huffington Post has since updated the story), and that the whole thing was basically a performance art project by Chinese artist Han Bing at the Midi Music Festival in Beijing. For more than 14 years, the artist has been walking cabbages as a way to show how the super rich have become gluttonous.
Han Bing said:
"A quintessentially Chinese symbol of sustenance and comfort for poor Chinese turned upside down. If a full stock of cabbage for the winter was once a symbol of material well-being in China, nowadays the nouveau riche have cast aside the modest (monotonous) cabbage in favor of ostentatious gluttony in fancy restaurants where waste signifies status... Yet, for the poor and struggling, the realities of cabbage as a subsistence bottom line have not changed—what's changed is the value structure that dictates what—and who—is valuable or worthless in Chinese society."