At first blush they are sweet, giddy fun -- Sanjaya! Iggy! Michelle Pfeiffer returns!-- but after you've read about Britney Spears' performance at the VMAs for the 500th time, they start to feel a little old.
Wondering if we were alone in our feelings on the subject, we called up our old friend, comedian and writer Kevin Seccia, to see what he had to say. Here's his take:
The End-of-the-Year List on Why I Hate End-of-the-Year Lists
Who doesn't love lists? It's like reading but with little breaks built right in! Lists are great, lists of: the worst places to live, the greatest bantamweight boxers from Jakarta, the laziest clowns. All awesome. Got a list of the eight most underrated fruits you'd like me to peruse? Done.
What's not so great? End of the Year lists. Here's why:
1. They're filled with things I'm sick of hearing about. Remember that great film from last summer? YES. It was three months ago. I saw the trailer, watched the movie, read the reviews and wrung every bit of enjoyment from the experience. What I'm not in need of right now is a hastily thrown together paragraph recapping the movie. With the number '4' placed in front of it.
2. They're needlessly elaborate. You really want to do a list? Fine, use up 1/18th of the page with a single-spaced, summation-free list. Then write something new on the rest of the page. (Please, no graphs and no click-through picture gallery).
3. They're stale. If you had any new information about the film/show/event you wouldn't be saving it for a list. "Unbelievably, Tommy Lee Jones' riveting portrayal of a world-weary sheriff in the Coens' classic was an obvious metaphor for the U.S. involvement in Iraq. And Woody Harrelson's hat represented Iran!"
That's not a revelation we'll ever pick up in a year-end list. What we do get is you telling me that "something awful" by "some jerk" was the official party song of last July! Wow. Annnnd thanks for ruining my December.
4. They're lazy. The fact that they're lazy is obvious to the majority of the planet. Yeah, I know, what business is it of mine how hard you work on a piece? People love them, right! So what if you did a half-assed cut-and-paste job of your original review? You're right, it shouldn't bother me. But it does. Go back to your desk.
5. They're too touchy-feely. Yeah, I don't have a particularly strong need to be reminded of what America or anyone else thought about anything. Especially if they "embraced" it. Were their "voices heard?" Did they "speak up at the Box Office?" If they had anything important to say they would've found a better way to tell me than plunking down 11 bucks and sitting through some Dane Cook abomination.
Honestly, I would love nothing more than to know less about "entertainment," and I think you can help me make this happen. Enough already, just let me enjoy it for two seconds without you putting it in "context," for me.
6. The wrong people write them. If push comes to shove (seriously, when doesn't it?) I'll admit one- or two-year-end lists wouldn't be that bad, if done by a select few. Are you a respected institution with a history of excellence? An august and world-renowned body? The ghost of Edward R. Murrow? Then by all means, make a year-end list.
Are you Billy Bush? The host of a show that comes on before 11 a.m.? TMZ? Then maybe you sit this one out, and I don't have to feel gross after reading your "take."
7. They're toothless. Even your "Worst Of ..." lists. Don't say Brett Ratner misfired; say he shouldn't be making movies. In fact, instead of a list, pen the legislation that would make it illegal for him to ever touch a camera again. Then send it to your congressman. Don't worry, you'll still get your byline.
Kevin Seccia is a stand-up comedian and a pop-culture critic for Suicidegirls.com