Throughout this article and in this section in particular, it's going to seem like I'm picking on BuzzFeed, but I assure you that's only because I totally fucking am. Not because BuzzFeed is the only offender here, or even the worst offender (as I've pointed out in the past, they actually do great political journalism and interviews). But they are certainly the most popular offender, with the most "content," so I'm focusing on them. Also, they do things like take an article of ours from 2009 and turn it into a video of theirs from 2013. Also? Just in general, I have a fond dislike of them and their lists.
Now, we at Cracked are obviously no stranger to the list, in the same way that strangers are no stranger to people they know. In all honesty, we were one of the first sites to start using the list format, and their popularity web-wide is probably at least partly due to our success (and according to Slate, we're the best at it). Cracked, of course, didn't invent the list -- that was done by the first human who thought of a second thing -- but Cracked did realize early on that people tend to click on lists more than anything else. Unfortunately for a lot of sites out there, setting something up like a list still doesn't mean your content contains anything.
That's from a blog I run, BuzzFeed Without GIFs, and it's exactly like it sounds. As each post proves, it doesn't matter if you slap the number 18 at the beginning of your list. What you're producing is still essentially just a single paragraph from a 5th-grader's journal entry. And honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the teacher gave it a check minus, because there's so little thought that goes into this stuff. So little care. It's churned out as quickly as possible, with little planning and no viewpoint. It's why articles about Saved by the Bell characters don't actually say anything about the characters. They just say that the characters existed. They never say anything about the '90s, they just want you to remember them. Over and over and over, until every week or so, there's a new post about how Tamagotchis were once a thing.
But again, this is not only about BuzzFeed. The Hypables and ShareLOLnets of the web all know that certain topics go "viral," and everyone clamors to get something (read: "anything") posted about those topics. It's why there's an article about dogs being sick of pumpkin spice season. It's why there's an article about how candy corn sucks dick a week before there's an article about how candy corn is better than getting your dick sucked. "Oh, people like Disney princesses with beards for some terrible reason? Let's do Disney princes without beards. Yeah. We nailed that whole great idea thing."
In the month of December this year, there were 15 pieces about Home Alone on BuzzFeed alone. "Why Kevin McCallister Is Not Your Average Kid," "If Buzz Had Instagram," whatever the hell you want about Home Alone. It doesn't matter, because it's Christmastime and Home Alone is a Christmas movie, so I guess we'll try to come up with 15 different articles about Home Alone.
That is, I kid you not, basically just a play-by-play of the events of the film Home Alone. They just tell you what occurs in the movie. It's what happens when you try to post 15 things about Home Alone in a single month. And what will happen next year when everyone posts about Home Alone and pumpkin spice again? Will people just forget that they read the same mindless garbage just 12 months prior? Or maybe this overzealous topic-gorging will soon make people figuratively literally throw up, and we'll have to come up with new, original things to talk about. We'll have to come up with something interesting to say ABOUT Home Alone, instead of just reminding everyone that it existed, which is something that happens an awful lot now.
In case you're wondering, the 37 WTF moments are actually just the 37 things that happened in the episode. It's a description of the episode. What the fuck indeed.
This happens more and more everywhere, because it's become clear that people are entertained by intelligent deconstruction of pop culture. Unfortunately, not many people actually want to do the work, and one of their Unanswered Questions From Willy Wonka winds up being "Why can't all flowers turn into teacups and taste like candy?"
Everyone's in such a rush to "ruin your childhood," because that's how you get those tasty share-clicks, but maybe there's actually nothing childhood-ruining about Home Alone, because even when you're a kid you know Kevin's parents are careless and that the film is violent. Those horrifying lessons we learned from Mulan are all actually just things Mulan went through in the first two acts of the film before she overcomes them in the third act, because that's how movies go.
Again, this comes down to lack of care. So much so that these are real:
It's not the "I'm on a Boat" we need, or the "I'm on a Boat" we deserve, but it's the "I'm on a Boat" we're forced to consume now, because...
These, too, are real:
You have to HAVE to pleeeeeeeease cliiiiiiiiick meeeeeeeeee I fucking daaaaaaaaaare yooooooooooooou.
(ps- pls share this if u like puppies or kittens or both. "like" it if u are human. thx.)
Cody is a columnist, video writer, performer, and editor for Cracked.com. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and probably some fucking stupid new thing called Blankyarm or TrendFriender.
As 2013 draws to a close, be sure to check out Cracked's year in review because, well, we know you don't remember it half as well as you think.