Lists! We all love ‘em, and we all love to hate ‘em, sharing them all over the social media and pointing out how wrong they all are! “How is GHOULIES III not on this list of the Top 17 Best College-Based Horror Films,” you demand, pointing your cinephile friends to the offending article. The proper movie list serves as perfect clickbait, something you’re willing to look at because you have your own ideas – and you’re ready to argue.
But there are a lot of bad lists out there. There are slideshows. There are lists that look down upon your cinematic knowledge by capping their title with the phrase ”You’ve Never Heard Of,” treating you like a 14-year-old whose just discovered that ERASERHEAD is “reeeeallly weird!” There are lazy lists thrown together without the hint of research that then present themselves as absolutes. There are lists with an unending capacity for counterfeit astonishment. And then there are lists that are just pure copypasta.
I have no problem with opinion-based lists – you can go ahead and come up with your Top 78 Movies Featuring Camels in the Background or Top 926 Roles of George “Buck” Flower all you want, and unless there’s some sort of math involved, I’ll just take your rankings as random. But if you set up a premise and then go back on it, or utilize blatantly false information, or just treat your readers like morons, you might find yourself on this list of 6 Worst Movie Lists on the Internet.
Are these the worst movie lists on the internet? Probably not! There are just six of them! But together, they paint a picture of the amount of ignorance, laziness and condescension that’s out there, and that just gets worse every time you share.
I’m not going to link to them, because that will only encourage them. If you really want to find them, you can search, but know you’ll probably be spending more effort on finding these lists than they did when putting them together.
6. “Nostalgia Sucks: 5 Movies You Loved as a Kid That Are Actually Terrible”
(We Got This Covered, T.J. Barnard)
It’s certainly true that we look at certain films through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia – how the heck else do you explain that we’re still making “Truffle Shuffle” references? Barnard’s list has the chance to address this by pointing out the obvious – movies made for and marketed to 8-year-olds don’t play as well to people who are not 8-year-olds. Kids like a lot of stuff going on and bright, shiny colors, so they’re naturally going to go for the likes of FROZEN, CARS 2 or the colorized FORBIDDEN ZONE.
From the outset, Barnard states that “it’s necessary that one person be the depressing, soul-destroying voice of adulthood.” That’s fine! Show me that my love for NEVERENDING STORY are idealized by the brain of my 11-year-old self! What else is the internet for than coming up with reasons that movies meant for the kids of three decades ago aren’t very good? I’m honestly surprised there are only five! Let’s go!
The list itself, however, isn’t the hatchet job of terribleness that it promises. First up is AN AMERICAN TAIL, which presumes that you don’t know who Don Bluth is and insults the animation, then calls it “boring,” which is what people do when they want to insult a movie but don’t really know why, but “boring” isn’t really “terrible,” is it? Next is JINGLE ALL THE WAY, which people seem to love just because it’s ridiculous – I don’t know that anyone was ever really engaged in the plot. Next is SPACE JAM, a film I’ve never heard as having been “loved” by anyone – it’s, at best, tolerated.
Then we get to the entry which is what made me want to include this list in, er, this list. The idea behind the list is that you loved these movies as a kid, but they’re actually terrible, ha ha! But who, outside of Dennis Hopper’s debt collectors, loved SUPER MARIO BROTHERS?
Nobody, I tell you. Barnard claims to have enjoyed it, but he’s clearly just forcing it in – the introduction is mostly about how the would-be child audience member was excited about the idea of the film and not the film itself. And it’s certainly true that there was a lot of hype for the movie, but after it opened, the few people foolish enough to go didn’t really go for the marketing blitz that Disney had wanted.
The final entry, HOOK, comes fairly close to achieving the goal the list’s name set up, but, again, “terrible” seems to be a bit strong, and Barnard’s review again cites that the film is “boring.” It’s a list that, despite its meager scope of five movies and the target of showing that decades-old kids’ movies aren’t very good, manages to fail because it assumes that the audience loved the movies in question (when they probably didn’t) and asserts that the movies are terrible without coming up with good enough rationales.
5. “50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”
(Entertainment Weekly, EW Staff)
“We bet at least some of these will be new even to dedicated movie fans…and you’ll be glad you found them,” the introduction claims. Except that they’re not betting – they’re insisting! Look at that headline! YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THESE FILMS! WE AT ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY KNOW THIS FOR WE ARE YOUR GODS! OWEN GLIEBERMAN IS YOUR MESSIAH! BEWARE OUR WRATH, AVAILABLE FOR 78% OFF THE COVER PRICE WITH A FREE POSTER OF DREW BARRYMORE!
Seriously, the most arrogant thing you can do as a listsicle writer is to assume your audience is a bunch of neophytes whose cinematic knowledge consists only of what’s available at Redbox. At least add a “probably,” like some of the above lists do.
Okay, so the list maker is a snobbish film nerd, sneering at you for not knowing how to use “Mise-en-scène” correctly in a sentence. Entertainment Weekly’s a class operation, and I’m sure the list itself will consist of plenty of unheard of gems. Let’s look at the first picture in the (nnnngh) 50-panel slideshow.
Er, really? Michael Winterbottom’s 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE with Steve Coogan? A movie that has over 22,000 votes on the IMDb? Now, I know there’s no way to really judge “obscurity,” but I’d think that anything over, say, 1,000 votes would at least count as having some following. I certainly wouldn’t make the natural assumption that you haven’t seen it.
Okay, let’s move past the two-line description that doesn’t really talk about the cast, crew, or anything about the movie other than calling the label that featured Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays “obscure.” (They are clearly using a different reference point of “obscure” than I am.) Surely the rest of the list will be more impressive, with tiny little obscurities that nobody who would be reading a film list has ever heard of.
There are plenty of good films in the list – it’s a ‘90s indie film fan’s wet dream – but the idea that most of the movies haven’t been seen is completely ridiculous. Granted, most of the films didn’t do well in their original theatrical release, but the inclusion of IDIOCRACY, MOON and THE IRON GIANT suggests that the listmaker just used box office returns as the end-all, be-all of popularity. Sure, there are some that are relatively unknown, but when you’re condescending to your readers in your title, you may want to bring your ‘A’ game every step of the way.
4. “4 Bad Filmmakers Who Accidentally Made Smart Movies
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a bad list – it’s not a slideshow, for one, and it’s certainly a subject that’s common enough for a list to actually be worth pursuing, a variation of the “bad filmmaker/good film” comparison that has been the source of about 8,259 lists at this juncture. Moving beyond how a bad filmmaker “accidentally” makes a smart movie (Hint: They acknowledge their reputation as a hack and set out to do something with merit), the first entry even seems fair – Brett Rattner’s RED DRAGON. Granted, I don’t like RED DRAGON and Gladstone just uses it as an excuse to bash Michael Mann’s superior MANHUNTER (apparently the title “tells you a lot about why the movie sucks”(?!), the prison looks all ‘80s and there’s not enough Lecter), but sure, it works in the context of the list. Whatever.
Then we get to the second entry – that is, the second of a mere four entries in a list.
Huh? Gladstone then goes on to say that the EVIL DEAD filmmaker is “not on this list because he sucks.” Which is weird, as the title of the list claims that all of the filmmakers listed shall be deemed as “bad,” and here he is, claiming his love for Raimi and his work. He then goes to so mention how Raimi is included because A SIMPLE PLAN has actual, three-dimensional characters, and he didn’t realize that Raimi even wanted to make a “smart” movie. Maybe he didn’t! Maybe it was “accidental!” Either Sam Raimi is actually a really bad filmmaker who stumbled into directing A SIMPLE PLAN through some sort of zany antic out of a “Three’s Company” episode, of Gladstone completely abandoned the point of his assignment two entries into a damn four entry list.
Even worse, the next entry has the same problem – it’s Kathryn Bigelow, whom Gladstone readily admits that “no one ever called Kathryn Bigelow a terrible director.” Then he makes a penis joke, because this is Cracked. Citing THE HURT LOCKER as an enigma (this was before ZERO DARK THIRTY), Gladstone mostly just denies any “signature touches,” apparently having seen different versions of NEAR DARK, STRANGE DAYS and POINT BREAK than I have. The last entry is a bit of a gimme, in Joel Schumacher’s FALLING DOWN (I would have gone with TIGERLAND, but whatever), but when you’ve only got four slots to fill and two of them go completely against the title you’ve come up with, maybe you should pick a different title? Like, “4 Movies By 4 Different Directors?” That works, and it’s more accurate, though probably not the clickbait you desire.
3. “8 Child Actors Who Disappeared From Film”
(Celebs.Answers.com, no writer listed)
CelebAnswers sponsors posts on Facebook, so you very well have been accidentally exposed to this one. First off, this article on “8 Child Actors” is a 27-picture slideshow, meaning that you have to go through 3 photos that take forever to load just to get to the next entry (though you do have two different arrow tab options, for some reason), while insane amounts of ads clog up your screen. If that’s not bad enough, it doesn’t even bother to stay true to its premise — #4 is Devin Ratray, the HOME ALONE actor who, the piece notes, “has continued with his acting career.” Heck, in the past two years, he’s been in R.I.P.D., NEBRASKA and SIDE EFFECTS! Oh, but he hasn’t “had any smash hits,” so he’s basically vanished off the face of the Earth. He may as well be a teacher! (Anna Chlumsky, who’s a regular on “Veep,” for Chrissakes, gets similar treatment.)
It’s even a terrible slideshow – Mara Wilson’s entry cuts off slides in the middle (!) of the film title MRS. DOUBTFIRE. And why eight? By including child actors that are still working (and, thus, going against the whole premise of the article), you’d think they were grasping at straws just to come up with a round number, but eight? Surely they could figure out two more. Maybe Jodie Foster? She hasn’t “had any smash hits” lately. Or perhaps they CelebAnswers should join a list of “8 Terrible Websites That Disappeared from Listsicle-making.”
2. “30 Great Movie In-Jokes You Probably Didn’t Notice”
(Taste of Cinema, David Zou)
We all love little “Easter eggs” in our movies, because they’re like a wink to the audience that only some people will appreciate, and we love feeling like a part of an exclusive club. “Ha,” we say when we recognize Noel Neill at the beginning of SUPERMAN RETURNS, “She was Lois Lane on the original SUPERMAN TV series!” There will be no response, as nobody will be watching SUPERMAN RETURNS with us. But still, exclusive club. Good feelings.
Zou’s list would have been fine if he had dropped off the last four words. The list does, in fact, include 30 Great Movie In-Jokes, ranging from the sacred words Ash has to utter in ARMY OF DARKNESS to Sylvester Stallone’ character in TANGO AND CASH saying “Rambo’s a pussy.” A bit lazy, but fine.
But with the addition of “You Probably Didn’t Notice,” Zou assumes that you, as a reader, have no capacity to watch films. Sure, you can probably click “Play” on a remote control, but the ability to actually focus your eyes on the screen and watch the film you’ve started is one lost to you. Check out, for example, #20, which lists WAYNE’S WORLD’s appearance of Robert Patrick playing his character from TERMINATOR 2, which isn’t a minor little joke in the background – it’s a full friggin’ scene in the movie! The same goes for CASPER’s appearance by Dan Aykroyd as a Ghostbuster – it’s not an “in-joke,” it’s a full-on reference that actually takes up screen time, and makes it perfectly obvious what film it’s referencing.
While the list is generally more useless than irritating, we do get moments like this that just drive the point that Zou thinks you’re in idiot:
GET IT?!? BECAUSE IT’S A TERMINATOR POSTER BUT IT HAS SYLVESTER STALLONE! Yeesh, thanks, Dave, we never would have noticed that. But that’s fine, you’re just not interested in subtlety – as long as you’re consistent.
I hate you, Dave.
1.“25 Film Noirs and Neonoirs You Probably Haven’t Seen”
(Taste of Cinema, Brian White)
25 relatively unknown films noir? That sounds good, especially since they’ve been nice enough to add the “probably,” thus not making the assumption that you’ve had no awareness of the genre! Let’s see what they have to say!
That sounds good! I mean, I’ve heard of the film, but it’s not exactly a common one – and I think it’s on DVD! As a Criterion disc! Why don’t I check out Criterion’s website and see what they have to say!
Hmm. That seems like an awfully familiar description. But it’s two paragraphs rather than one, so it couldn’t possibly just be a copy! Let’s move on and see what’s #2!
That sounds good – and I think there’s a Criterion DVD of that as well! Let’s check it out!
It goes on like this for another 23 entries, as “writer” Brian White copies the Criterion’s description verbatim to fill his list, a list that has over 1.6K Facebook “likes” and 1.7K Pinterest, uh, “pins” or whatever the hell Pinterest things are called. The nicest thing that I can say is that at least it’s not a slideshow.
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