“Worst of” Lists Are the Worst

by     Posted 1 year, 1 day ago

die-hard-5-worst-obvious

2013 is almost over, and our site and many others feel the need to organize the past twelve months.  This usually comes in the form of lists, i.e. the Internet’s preferred method of digesting information.  Year-end lists are nothing new to any published medium, and the Internet’s endless hunger for new content demands more than one quantified evaluation.  We’ll have a fair share of lists in the near future as the year winds down, but one you won’t find on Collider is “Worst of 2013”.

Hit the jump for more on why this pointless annual ritual needs to stop.

grown-ups-2-posterTrying to rank art is admittedly a silly endeavor.  How do you compare movies from two vastly different genres?  Blackfish doesn’t have a lot of laughs and This Is the End doesn’t have much to say on the matter of Sea World abusing orcas.  At best, we can only compare movies through their ability to achieve their own goals.  This Is the End is hilarious and Blackfish is persuasive advocacy.  If they were on someone’s “Top 10” list, the reader could use the list as a guide.  Hundreds of movies come out every year, and someone who saw plenty of these films selected ten based on a mix of tradition, a round number, and alliteration.  If you trust the writer and/or are persuaded by the rhetoric, you can now seek out some movies.   The act of constructing the list is silly, but the end result is useful.

“Worst of” lists, or their cousin “Most Disappointing” lists, don’t have that utility.  They rarely, if ever, point out a movie that’s so bad, it’s good.  They do absolutely nothing for the reader other than possibly entertain with a snarky comment, because if the Internet is missing anything, it’s a snarky comment (I just did my part by adding one more).  At most, they can spark a negative, counterproductive discussion.  It can only appeal to those who have seen the movie, and the responses will be either defensive or piling on.  It’s chum in the heated waters of the Internet where arguments are rarely illuminative or transformative.

Even if it’s a more moderate “Most Disappointed” list, there’s rarely an in-depth post-mortem to examine the film’s flaws compared to expectations.  It’s a brief “Here’s the potential, and here’s why it missed the mark, and now I’m upset.”  It’s an analysis that the writer probably explained with more specificity in the actual review.  If someone wants to talk about what’s disappointing, then perhaps a more worthwhile article is about how movies manufacture excitement through concept, star power, and marketing, and how it’s nearly impossible to go into a movie “cold”.  But the purpose of these lists isn’t to provide a structured argument.  It’s to beat a dead horse.

movie-theater-01Unlike a “Top 10” list, a “Worst of” list can’t produce a positive outcome.  It can’t function as a recommendation because it steers people away, which isn’t difficult.  The list says, “Don’t see this movie!” and the reader responds, “I won’t!” and goes about his or her day.   The people who write these lists clearly know enough about movies and see enough of them to feel passionately about the art form.  It’s rare that someone who writes a “Worst of” list doesn’t also have a “Best of” list.  These writers should know that bad movies, although they may be tough to watch, still have something to offer when it comes to teaching the viewer about filmmaking and storytelling.  So why are these cinephiles discouraging others from seeing movies?

Because year-end lists, whether they’re positive or negative, are acts of vanity.  If you want to put a nicer spin on it, they’re badges of pride.  The only way to push past ego is to give the reader something worthwhile, and kicking a film that’s already been kicked is spite.  These lists usually give only a paragraph per selection, so there’s no in-depth examination of why a film failed.  That’s what the review accomplished.  It’s a rehash that won’t enlighten nor will it have any affect on future movies.  I think The Playlist and The Dissolve are two of the best movie websites, but singling out A Good Day to Die Hard is pointless.  Everyone knows it’s bad, Bruce Willis will keep making movies, John Moore will still get journeyman work, and none of us will be surprised if there’s a sixth Die Hard movie because we’re all cynical enough to know how the film business works.

We chose this profession because we love movies, and I more than understand the frustration. I know it comes out in my writing every time I report on an obnoxious marketing maneuver or an ill-advised remake of a beloved classic or pretty much anything about Hollywood being Hollywood.  That’s not to mention all of the bad movies I see.  But there’s no need to go back, exhume the corpse, and kick it again.  I wrote “Worst of” lists for years, but last year I realized I didn’t know why.  I guess it was because other sites posted them, and I suppose the thinking goes that if we’re recapping the whole year, we also need to recap the bad as well as the good.  And to be completely honest, it was an opportunity to be snarky and get easy laughs.  I know my writing can be negative, but I also recognize that there’s already enough invective on the Internet, and I wish other cinephiles would stop making lists to remind us about the movies they hated and why they hated them.




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  • Erik

    You know, it’s funny, but I think you just told us that “Grown Ups 2″ was the worst film of the year. There’s a huge picture of the poster there in the middle of the article, yet you don’t mention the movie not once.

    • Christian Stephen

      I like to think that it’s in the vein of “Look, you know exactly what I’m talking about”.
      This is less about the actual worst films of the year, and more so the principle of making a list.

  • Christian Stephen

    This is wonderful. I’ve been following Collider for a long time and for many of the same reasons outlined here. The love of cinema. Anyone can take pot shots at less than thrilling films, but it’s a waste of breath to harp on about them.
    Part of the love of cinema is to celebrate it. Celebrate the excellence, the passion and the emotion.
    I, for one, could not agree with Goldberg more.

    You go Glen Coco.

  • The Flobbit

    Damn Matt, why do I agree with you? Oh, and for the record, Grown Ups was a terrible movie. The worst of the year, actually. That and…

    • God of Collider

      Man of Steel and Hobbit 2: The Quickening.

      Kudos, Matt. Us lover’s of quality cinema need to speak out more.

      • Troll Therapist

        In our session today I want you to think about your actions. Try to focus on what motivates them and how we can change them to make you less “troll” like with your comments. A good exercise would be to repeat to yourself 5 times every hour: “I forgive my father and will no longer wear trench coats unless the weather permits me.” Lets check back in a week and see how we are doing with these baby steps we are taking. Of all the trolls I have treated you are by far the toughest but I know that in time we can work through your issues and help healing process of forgiving your dad. Cheers and god bless Collider for allowing me to help all of these poor “internet trolls” deal w their issues. Let the healing begin.

      • God of Collider

        Therapist of guy who copies and pastes a response to each quality post: “You show symptons of OCD as well as manic depression. Your obsession with your intellectual and social better has made your life unbalanced. Ironically, while you pretend to be a purveyor of mental health you are actually exhibiting symptons of a dangerous psychosis. Finding a different hobby will be a therapeutic excerise that will help you on the road to recovery.”

      • Troll Therapist

        Good. Good. A breakthrough. This is not a hobby but my profession: reaching and breaking internet trolls so that they may mature and grow to become functioning adults in society. Now let’s go back to why you’re obsessed with piss, corn, Chris Nolan and any thing DC related. We’ll cover the black fingernails and trench coat wearing at another time.

      • Hahaha

        Aww you guys are too cute , i cant.

      • Hahaha

        Aww you guys are too cute , i cant.

      • cb

        “Guy”. Singular.

      • God of Collider

        Troll Therapist’s Therapist notes to self: “The subject appears to be suffering from megalomania. It has manifested itself into a perverse sexual fixation on an anonymous stranger on the internet who calls himself Chris Nolan Super Fraud. The subject is so obsessed he has devoted his entire life to following and analyzing his hero. The suppression of this unrequited desire may erupt into acts of violence. I fear for the safety and well being of my subject because once he learns he can never beat Chris Nolan Super Fraud he may inflict mortal injury upon himself. I can only pray for this perverse and very sick man. He has my pity.”

      • Troll Therapist

        I see that we are reverting back to another “fake” personality. First it was Lulz, later King Of Collider and now you are thinking you are me. Ok, we will have to start over from square one. I knew that this was going to be harder than teaching Helen Keller to drive but I know in time we can make progress. Today let us concentrate on who we are as we are having identity issues. Repeat to yourself: “I am Joel Schumacher”.

      • God of Collider

        Troll Therapist’s Therapist personal journal: “During a particularly aggressive bout of frenzied masturbation, Troll Therapist used his mongloid strength to break free of his bonds and sexually assault several of our male guards. Before his rampage could end he accessed a computer. Now, this tragic occurrence may yet yield beneficial results; we have determined Troll Therapist is in love with Chris Nolan Super Fraud, a commenter on the website Collider who possess charisma and an intellect far exceeding that of Troll Therapist. I am led to believe his obsession with Super Fraud is a form of jealousy so profound it has permanently damaged his psyche.”

      • Troll Therapist

        This is great. Progress is finally being made. We are finally getting you to open up. Once we get to the core of what really makes you a troll we will start to see what we call in the industry “Troll Progression” in which over a period of time you will start to morph yourself into an actual human being who doesn’t posses “snarky and degenerating characteristics”. Cheers to all your progress ;)

      • The Flobbit

        I love you Troll Therapist. Live long and prosper, and heal many trolls. Strong Enough should be lurking around here somewhere…

      • God of Collider

        Flobbit: “Can you dig up Tolkien’s rottening corpse and use his thigh bone to anally violate me Troll Therapist? I love you that much!”

      • The Flobbit

        You disgust me, you lowdown decrepit excuse for a human being.

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  • T

    Dear Matt,

    We all love movies, that’s obviously why we come to this site and a few others alike. But the aforementioned movies (the 2 bad ones) didn’t really change the outlook or the “takeaway” factor. Shouldn’t we basically use that as the litmus test just like we would with a good movie- a la Prisoners (family, loss, coping), Gravity (sheer brilliance of storytelling by using technology and becoming a de facto movie for a generation of Sci Fi movies).

    I don’t know, just a thought I suppose? …..Than just harp on these shitty movies that totally waste our time? Feel bad for you guys though, having to watch these movies all the time…

  • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

    This is a great article. It’s why I like coming to this website. Goldberg, you did a good job and actually called yourself out for your past articles of similiar nature and it’s that reason that I enjoyed the article even more.

    • God of Collider

      Why does someone who embarrasses themselves so regularly continue to post? It’s really quite a spectacle.

      • Troll Therapist

        tsk…tsk…tsk.. I see our therapy sessions are doing very little to help you with your trolling behavior. It’s no worries as I will try even harder to make sure that we break through to your inner child. You’re as stubborn as a young Helen Keller but I know that in time we will find out what really makes you tick…besides piss and corn falling into your mouth.

      • God of Collider

        Troll Therapist’s Therapist note to self: “Our subject’s deviant sexuality has sent him spiralling into a deep psychosis I fear he may never return from. In all my years fulfilling my role as therapist I’ve yet to encounter such a profoundly disturbed individual; he’s so obsessed with Chris Nolan Super Fraud it borders on religious zealotry. However, we may have made progress in our quest to uncover the root of Troll Therapist’s psychosis. Yesterday, during our routine session, the subject was placed under hypnosis. While in his altered state, I asked him questions relating to his impoverished childhood. It caused the subject profound duress but I uncovered a hidden memory: Troll Therapist’s father forced him into prostitution at a young age. Troll Therapist’s three main clients were a man named Chris, a man named Nolan, and one who simply called him self “Super Fraud”. These three men routinely gang banged Troll Therapist despite his pleas for them to stop. So, when Troll Therapist saw a user on the internet with the moniker Chris Nolan Super Fraud, he suffered a full psychotic break. God help this poor soul!”

      • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

        Yesss! I got my own stalker. Double jackpot! He’s got multiple fake user followers and likes to talk about piss and corn. Score.

      • God of Collider

        Don’t worry about it, judging by your avatar you’re a handsome man. You’re looking fit, thick and tight. Proud of you bro.

      • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

        I’m not your bro “Pal”. See what I did there? I one upped you.

      • God of Collider

        You must be lifting. I can tell by your confidence and agro attitude. See? You didn’t have to be a limp wristed keyboard warrior your entire life. Now you’re getting your swell on. Proud of you brah.

  • Reina

    well said

  • Batfreak

    Why do you say “Hit the jump”? It pops up in the regular article and just looks ugly there. You should say “Keep reading” instead. It flows better.

  • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

    A good day to Die hard wans’t bad. It was awful. I couldn’t watch 15 mn of it.
    It is a shame Bruce Willis accepted to play in this joke.

    • God of Collider

      aahahahahahhahaa. What a tard!

      • Chris Nolan Super Fraud

        aahahahahahhahaa. What I meant was “I love weiners!” In fact, I hope one falls into my ass tonight. Dulz – your internet friendly troll ;O <===8

      • God of Collider

        Sigh. So juvenile.

      • Troll Therapist

        In this session let us touch upon the subject of not judging others. An old lesson to learn from the bible book of Ruth: Those who live in glass houses should not shit in the sink. I can already feel we are slowing stripping away the layers as we reach ever so closer to your inner soul.

      • God of Collider

        No therapist quotes the bible because anyone who’s semi-educated knows it’s horseshite. You’ve been exposed as a fraud.

      • Chris Nolan Super Fraud

        Sigh. So juvenile…all of the weiners that fell in and around my mouth. Dulz – your internet friendly troll ; -O – - – <===8

      • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

        Was your cradle rocked a little too close to the wall trolly ?

      • God of Collider

        I’ve been kicking so much ass lately I just have to sit back and admire my own work. I’ve pwned the regulars here decisively and I’ve pwned troll therapist by doing his schitck better than he can. I guess I realize the reason I’m the top dog around here is that I’m just way, way better than everyone while being several magnitudes higher in my intelligent quotient. Damn it feels good to be number one.

      • Troll Therapist

        In dealing with your aggression issues we need to examine the root of the cause. Fighting with tarek, again, stems from your hatred of your father as tarek comes off as a fatherly figure to you as he rejects your ideas (as your real father does). Let us slowing accept that it’s your father who you are really mad at and not tarek. Placing blame on others will only keep you from moving forward in life.

      • God of Collider

        Tarek’s my father? But I’m not inbred or a sexual deviant like the rest of his family? How is this possible?

      • cb

        Are you talking about Chris Nolan Super Fraud 1, Chris Nolan Super Fraud 2, or his latest creation “Troll therapist”? Just wait till his other personalities hear about this! bombinUSA is going to be pissed!

      • Troll Therapist

        Let’s be clear here: I am only here to help poor Chris Nolan Super Fraud/King of Collider/Lulz move on to greener websites. We all need to stop feeding him his troll lunch (that is a post/remarks) -especially bombinUSA. From there he will no longer be compelled to post up silly rants about corn flavored piss and Treyvon Martin or whatever else creeps in his sad little mind. It is in my expertise that I must help him exercise the demons (I’m certain he has father issues as he is so aggressive and sexually frustrated). I’ve helped many of these “internet trolls” in my past and I am sure that after a few more sessions that I will be able to help this one too. Although I am breaking several HIPAA laws by letting you know my professional opinions I still believe that with all of our help we can finally get this troll to move on.

      • God of Collider

        Troll Therapist’s Therapist journal entry #174: “Troll Therapist continues to access the internet despite the court injunction prohibiting from doing so due to his numerous convictions of pederasty. The extent to which his psychosis has transmuted is quite remarkable. He now assumes the guise of a therapist dispensing advice to imaginary patience despite his illiteracy preventing him from forming full sentence that would persuade someone he has a higher than fourth grade education. He persists in his fantasy despite the fact nobody seems to convinced by it. This is quite remarkable I must say.”

      • Troll Therapist

        This is great. Your anger has finally reached an all time high. In our last session, after screaming about hating your father for over an hour, you let it slip that you are also upset about Duck Dynasty, a show that you have never watched before. It is there that I was able to put 2 and 2 together that you have been masking your homosexual desires. A break through! Finally we are getting somewhere. Today, I want to dig deeper and find out more about these “desires” that you so crave.

      • God of Collider

        Praise be to you Troll Therapist. This is indeed a robust offering. You have crafted it well, and chosen your words carefully, toiling for many hours. Those that pay homage to the lord shall receive their just desserts.

      • Chris Nolan Super Fraud

        Word usage such as Derp, Derpy, Lulz, and lack of punctuation makes me an expert on critiquing others. Excuse me I have to go back painting my nails black as I get ready to go to work at the Olive Garden today. Dulz – neighborhood friendly troll ; – O<======8

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  • Johnson

    If you don’t want to make a “Worst of” list, then just don’t make one. You know, goldberg, I love this site, I love movies, I love going to the cinema, but why the hell do you keep posting anything. You are cynical and sarcastic and you are forcing your old-fashioned views on the readers of a news-website.

    • Christian Stephen

      Let’s all stand on ceremony for the man telling Goldberg he’s “cynical and sarcastic” underneath an article that champions the very opposite views.

      I award you no points, and may God have mercy.

  • grapes9h5

    I AGREE and second the motion

  • dangeer

    “But there’s no need to go back, exhume the corpse, and kick it again.”

    If only people would utilize that logic to stop whining about how much they hate the Star Wars prequels. Man, the internet would be a much happier place…

    • Christian Stephen

      A logical, rational man would agree with you, and I like to think i am one.
      But the Menace still stings. Still.

  • hahe71

    I completely agree with this article and I’m usually not a fan of Goldberg. From reading these comments I’m sure if anyone else wrote it you guys wouldn’t be bitching and moaning like you are.

  • João Paulo

    Great article Goldberg and I agree with you.

  • Dan

    I like so many texts on Collider, but sorry to say, this is far from being one of them. All your points are simply invalid and not true at all, simple as that. Lists can be a lot of things, and they can be informative too, both of best and worst of anything. They don’t need to be “badges” or show any kind of pride. I can only take myself as an example, but I’m sure many identify: I follow more news than watch actual movies these days, for many reasons, time being the most prominent. But I still want to see some movies later on, when they’re on TV or I find them online, whatever. If I read about a movie and then forget about it, a list is always a good way to rethink it: is it worthy or not? Was this actually released? And was this released this year? I thought it was older or had different people or whatever other info. Seems to me you want to say everybody will tend to look at best of or worst of lists the exact same way, when we actually can take many different lessons and approaches. Some movies are actually very bad and there’s no harm for the reader in pointing that out by the end of the year with the really good ones in counterposition. I agree with other people above, and mostly that this is probably the most pointless article on this site, but could also be written in irony, since it is so badly thought and still brings that picture of Grown Ups 2.

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  • Pat Clifton

    This is evidence, if ever it were needed, that bloggers think they are journalists, and can’t see the difference between the two. It is summed up particularly with the line “and now I’m angry about it.” – sure… if you’re a blogger. Which you are.

  • Miles

    As much as I don’t like herd mentality on the internet that just echoes the same opinions over and over again, and I do agree numerical ranking of movies is a waste of time but there are some movies that have to be talked about good or bad. For example a good day to die hard is an absolute abomination that deserves the negative attention it got because at the end of the day the director John Moore was a lazy hack that churned out a product for a profit, who is still walking away with your money in his pocket. And I would much rather have a couple of lists that don’t really affect the overall release and consumption of that movie. Than have an army of PR men and advertisers promoting something that’s clearly awful, or just having every film news/review site saying the same exact movie poster tagline like “you’ll be on the edge of your seat!” Because there are still people in the general public who won’t have any prior knowledge of a film and just go to cinemas and watch movies blindly to kill time, not because they love movies. And they’ll see trailers of a movie they know nothing about or who was behind it and go see it based purely on it wowing them. Those people fed the Hollywood machine and made sure that Die Hard 5 was greenlit and kicked out the door.

  • Milo

    I love worst lists so much. And after skimming a couple sentences it was obvious the article wasn’t even worth reading.

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