I’ve gone on record to say that something rubs me the wrong way about youtube channels like Cinema Sins. Well, there’s an even deeper vein of this kind of faux-sincere film crit in written-form, usually spread across several unnecessary pageviews. Here is an example nitpicking Pixar’s Inside Out. The “things that bother me about” thing is a variation of the listicle. When you plug this term into Google you wind up with a whopping 7.7 million results!
The reason “things that bother me about” work so well is wrapped up in that one word: bother. People love to complain about things. You see it in how people approach politics, especially, as we saw in the last election. Since attention is the commerce of the internet, if you can rant about something, even if you’re just “bothered” then you can get hits, and if you get hits, you can monetize it. The problem is that once there’s a profit-motive, then it becomes a sausage-factory. Witness the output of the author of this piece, who has churned out worthless listicle after listicle including must-reads like “5 shitty TV characters”. Articles like these work especially well by touching off comment flamewars between haters and defenders. It’s unlikely that the author had any true feelings on the matter other than to generate some sort of controversy.
Just to date myself, I’m reminded of the Queen song, Bicycle Race, which featured this (then) controversial refrain:
You say black I say white
You say bark I say bite
You say shark I say hey man
Jaws was never my scene
And I don’t like Star Wars (woooo!)
The difference is that the subject of this song was merely explaining that he was into bikes, whereas these hack writers are merely churning out worthless content in order to generate clicks.
I know it sounds hypocritical for me to take these kinds of potshots, considering my various rants, but if I’m going to rant about something, at least I mean it, as I’m ranting for free. It’s free speech at its purest level. I am not being paid to shit out an endless diarrhea stream of pointless tempests in a tea-pot.
The other flavor of linkbait that drives me insane focuses on celebrities.
For instance, there’s totally bogus death notices, like this one for Tom Selleck and Psy:
Then there’s the (seemingly) demographically targeted ads showing the “shocking” results of 30+ years of aging.
Celebrities dying, getting old, getting bad plastic-surgery, getting pulled over for DUIs. This kind of content is the cesspool at the bottom of the internet as far as their intrinsic worth. The only thing worse would be sites espousing hate-speech. And yet it seems when it comes to sheer volume, they’re everywhere. These banner ads are everywhere. They are search-engine-optimized so that they pop up to the top of google search results when you don’t want them there.
The larger problem here is the devolution of the internet to the point where the only things left are things that in some way appeal to our basest instincts. For the most part, they feed off of our most negative emotions: fear, lust, greed, hatred. They tap into our primal thoughts as tabloids do. And all along the way they surf on top of the name-recognition of pop-culture. You can’t have a guy who writes Star Wars listicles without there first having been a Star Wars. As such this kind of journalism is ultimately parasitic.
I struggle sometimes to write a review (or an essay, as most of mine are) because all I need to do is type in the film’s title and find an endless stream of people’s opinions, many of them listing out the same sorts of thoughts, associations, and observations that I was going to make. Since anyone with a keyboard can share their thoughts, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Even if you disregard the stream-of-consciousness of Facebook feeds and Youtube comments, an old film or TV episode of the sort that I’d cover has been analyzed to death. I’m still ultimately writing about arts and entertainment, but my challenge is to try to offer a unique perspective. If I can’t do that, it’s not worth writing. If everyone tried to do that, the total weight of the internet would be a fraction of what it is now and we would not be buried in so much worthless white-noise.