Thursday, 31 December 2009

Top ten reasons why lists are rubbish...

1. It is no coincidence that 'best of' lists proliferate at this time of year. They are written by drunken hacks, filing copy from the pub.

2. Lists are the lowest form of cultural commentary, produced by those with nothing to say for those for whom nothing is worth reading.

3. Lists are either produced by self-elected experts (to show how cool or clever they are) or by an aggregate of public opinion (for which the term 'lowest common denominator' was invented.)

4. Lists are invariably produced by men. Only men have both the time and inclination. Only men are that nerdy and that inane. All men are on the autistic spectrum and should be prescribed Ritalin at birth.

5. Women do produce lists, but of a far more practical kind than 'the best Spurs XI' or 'Bob Dylan's studio albums in order from 1 to 42' lists men favour e.g. shopping lists, Christmas present lists, DIY to-do lists, wedding planning lists for the year after next in anticipation of an engagement that never comes, potential name lists for babies yet to be born.

6. Lists have been the saviour of land-fill TV. Got a three-hour gap in the schedule? Knock up a best-of programme on your Apple Mac compiled from stock footage and a bunch of C-list celebrities talking out of their arses.

7. Lists attempt to objectify the subjective. They are the equivalent of ancient rulers carving their decrees in stone. Only written up by the sad and lonely and posted on their blogs hoping for the attention they'll never receive.

8. Lists are most fun when written by committee, a process usually lubricated by alcohol. It's not true that men don't like to express their emotions. They get very heated about which Bob Dylan album is the best - 'Blood on the Tracks' or 'Blonde on Blonde'. The thought that anyone can consider the Manchester United treble winning team to be superior to the Tottenham Hotspur double winning team has been known to reduce a man to tears.

9. You can measure a list maker's ego by the title of his list. 'My favourite...' is modest. 'My recommended...' even considers its audience. 'Top ten...' shows some delusions of grandeur. 'Best ever...' is the province of the ego maniac, only exceeded by 'Countries to invade next' lists, traditionally the territory of blood-thirsty dictators who invariably spent many of their waking hours drawing up lists, usually of enemies to eliminate and town squares requiring their statue.

10. The rule of lists is that they should be a top 10, 50 or 100 and cover the year, decade, century or millennium e.g. the best 10 madrigal performances of the last 1000 years. If you can't think of a tenth that's worthy, you read a rival list and crib of that. If you have more than ten, it's time to kill your darlings...

Now I've got that off my chest, time to have fun compiling a few lists...

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