Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 11:36PM
Anyone brave enough to follow me on Twitter knows this time of year finds me constantly linking to Top 10 lists and weeping over my gratitude for them.
Conversely, this time of year also seems the time when many writers of these lists huff and puff about creating them or detractors cry foul on 'lazy editors'.
I want to say the following to you lucky few who drown in the best books, movies, television and movies: you are performing a cultural service and you should be damn pleased with yourself.
Especially since I started moving all over the country, where friends are hard to find and time passes slower than a Hulu commercial, I have needed a strong connection to popular culture. I get lonely. Keeping up with modern books, movies, music and television allows me to be a part of a national/global conversation even if no one asks for my opinion. If it sounds sad, then well, it's probably sad. I choose to think of the onslaught of media as the exciting rush of new information, a tool to learn better story telling and sampling data for a cultural timeline.
If I want to get personal about it (and YOU KNOW I want to get personal about it) some part of this fixation comes from my dad's utter refusal to accept new anything. I love the man, but he still refuses to listen to any song made after 1979. He will only see a movie if it guarantees breasts. And he mostly spends his time rereading all the books he's read for decades. As a child I always found it pretty sad. So, in some weird vow to never become that or to revolt against his comfort level, I have turned into this fiend who devours new things and writes his daddy issues in a post about Top 10 lists. Hurray!
I keep vigilant, but as the old saying goes, "Don't be stupid." All my podcasts, review trolling and Twitter will never show me everything that might make life complete. All the McSweeney's, NYT book review and Netflix can only show me so much. My pirating search filters get clogged. My Spotify gets spotty. My SEO gets SOL.
In come the annual Top 10 lists.
Sure, they don't catch everything as many good things slip through small cracks. Still, the lists serve as an excellent way to see what I have missed in the previous year, gauge how my opinions stack up with those I respect and plan the next three or four cold winter months.
Culture writers, you give me a gift in these. Let my words stand as the voice of all struggling journalists with big dreams and bad friend-making skills who moved too far away from home. Let them stand while I say, "Thank you."
I understand the hollow act of listing, writers. It seems unconscionable and almost sleazy to arbitrate some point system that ranks one piece of art over another. I get it. I hate star ratings and number scores and everything, too. I like puppies and think more money should be spend on education as well. We have a happy life together full of agreement. We love kale. We hate this season of Homeland.
However, this is the holiday season and you should treat it as such, writers. Don't get bogged down in the minutia of what goes where and what is left out. Take a page from many of the greats who choose to list only a top five or as many as a top 25, however many they feel the year demands. Take a tip from these who flat out say the numbers mean nothing and one piece does lift above others. Have fun. You enjoy this job, presumably, and you get to list what you enjoyed most while working the job you enjoy. Do it for posterity. Do it to swab the cheek of civilization. Do it for me.