Over time, every mass medium evolves a way of reaching the lowest common denominator, its own specially tailored and especially shameless method of squeezing the art until it screams dollar signs. We live in a capitalist world, so it’s not surprising that artists, entertainers, and journalists can’t always pick dignity over paying the rent. Let’s review:
• Television has got its missing white girls, celebrity ‘news’, and overall bleeds = leads philosophy.
• The movie industry could hardly survive without binging on mindless explosions, sequelitis, and formulaic romantic comedies.
• Radio (it’s still a thing, right?) lives and dies by voice-tracking, dayparting, speeding up songs to fit in more ads, and, of course, an unholy arsenal of screeching shock-jocks and apoplectic political gasbags.
• And even the medium associated with the highest of brows, publishing, sustains itself primarily on a program of fad-diet books, pop-science piffle, quickie cash-in bios for the dead celebs and ghost-written claptrap for the dumb and living ones.
Now, the internet is still a toddler compared to the above media, but it’s already developed some tried, true, and slightly short of dignified ways of pulling in pageviews, the metric that eventually makes the money that keeps the whole thing going. Linkbait can be good or bad, and it’s obviously part of life for any company making its living with content on the web. But it’s good to know what the internet equivalent of fishnet stockings and a low-cut blouse are, so you can spot the cheap and easies like an expert.
On the technical end, there’s spamdexing – which I could explain but it would probably put us both to sleep – and on the content end, there are several tactics to lower yourself to snag more eyeballs. There’s celeb gossip (nothing new there), unverified tech rumors, fake-feuding for traffic, and throwing in names that are insanely popular but utterly irrelevant to your post like Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, or Justin Bieber, for example. And, of course, there’s the list. I’m a big fan of lists, even if especially if they’re silly and useless.
But there’s a limit. And The Daily Beast has not only crossed that limit, they’ve set up shop on the other side and started giving the finger to everyone who ever gave a flip about standards. Their lists are kaleidoscopically stupid; every possible avenue of idiocy is explored. The premises are hopelessly flawed, the criteria are completely meaningless, and the actual content is, well, debatable is the kindest description I can muster. (Flat-out f**ing retarded is the least kind, if you were wondering.) OK, Tina Brown, you’ve forced me to fight fire with fire, list with list. Here goes:
THE TEN MOST USELESS DAILY BEAST LISTS OF ALL TIME, OR AT LEAST UNTIL NEXT MONTH
Random metrics + high interest subject = shamless linkbait. How good is the engineering program? How much crime is on campus? What is the acceptance rate? What do these have to do with each other and how they do prove an amorphous and probably unmeasurable quality like “stress” on campus? Oh, nevermind all that. Forward this to aunt Susie – she’s got a kid applying this fall.
OK, I won’t bring up that they lump bloggers, journalists, newspaper columnists, and radio talk show hosts all together. I realize I’m one of the few holdouts who distinguish between commenting on the news and breaking it. But still, Fred Hiatt is on a list of lefties. Fred Hiatt, for crisssakes. At #5. Worthless.
It’s really just a list of great delis across the U.S., but that wasn’t eye-grabbing enough, so TDB had to come up with a confusing/dopey title and work in some story about how delis are dying because of low margins on brisket, their association with Jack Abramoff (huh?), and the low-carb craze (four years after Atkins went bankrupt).
Any commentary on this one would be secondary to just listing their lame criteria: psychiatrists per capita, stress, eccentricity and drinking levels. What? But at this point, whatever, fine. Do your dumb meaningless list, Daily Beast. But c’mon! You should’ve had a clue something was wrong when Cincinnati, of all places, was number one. Cincinnati has never been number one in anything, ever, good or bad. It wouldn’t even crack the top three in a “Lamest Cities in Ohio” list, an admittedly tough contest.
Aside from putting Tiger at #1, the list isn’t that bad by Daily Beast standards. But the tagline, “Hollywood’s Buddha-ful People” is enough to land it in the middle of the Hall of Shame.
Again, apart from a laughably broad definition of journalist (Rush Limbaugh?) , it’s a shame to throw respectable people like Caitlin Flanagan and Nick Gillespie in with the likes of Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck. Also, I have to quote the blurb about Bill O’Reilly:
“O’Reilly, an anchor who has turned blowing hard into an art form (ed. note: no argument here), is reliably—and relentlessly—omniscient (Omniscient? That’s the word you wanted?) His paint-by-numbers conservatism can be off-putting even to those who share many of his beliefs, but every now and then he has his finger perfectly on the pulse of the nation. And then he’s unstoppable.”
So, Bill is reliably and relentlessly omniscient, which is good. It sucks when someone’s erratically all-knowing. But even with consistently godlike powers, he’s only unstoppable every now and then. That’s why he’s only at number five on their list.
The co-founder of something called nameberry.com, “which we like to think of as the high-quality, intelligent source for stylish names”, lays out the Chets, Tiffanys, and Taylors of tomorrow so that we can preemptively hate their idiot parents. When Seraphin, Imogen, Phineas, Atticus, and Kai become as common as Brad and Kelly, we’ll know who to kill thank.
Any list where Joe Scarborough follows Jon Stewart is clearly meaningless. Evidently, Stewart is on this because made fun of Keith Olbermann one time. I think they’re confused. Criticizing people on your own side occasionally doesn’t make you centrist. It makes you honest.
Somehow dumber than it sounds, it’s an inventory of celebs who’ve gotten breast reductions. Thank God someone is recording this information for posterity. It should also be noted that the definition of A-List is stretched so far that it includes the likes of Soleil Moon Frye and Loni Anderson. The slideshow contains gems like this from Kelly Osborne: “Perfect boobs is what I want.” Enlightening.
With the amount of brain cells I lost just reading the title, I can’t possibly risk reading the article. We have a winner.