The ultimate slapstick prop, comedic use of the banana can be dated back at least four thousand years. The act of slipping on a banana peel has a knack of producing schadenfreude in the viewer — the sensation of deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others. Bananas are curious objects; they can be seen as phalluses or flowers, food or weapons.
Bananas are the fourth most important crop in the world and the Cavendish — our standard yellow grocery store banana — makes up a huge percentage of the bananas sold around the world. The Cavendish, genetically weak and prone to disease, could be on the verge of destruction. A strain of Panama Disease called “Tropical Race Four” is rapidly spreading and threatens to wipe out the Cavendish. The demise of the Cavendish would be an inconvenience to Westerners but it would spell disaster for millions of people in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.