#2. "Best Christmas Movies Ever!"
"It's that time of year again! Time to tell you 17 Christmas movies that you already know because you've already seen them and you've already read this list, every year for the last 10 years, on this and every other pop culture website! No. 17: Frosty, you guys!"
Let me save everyone some time. There are only three Christmas movies that matter: A Christmas Story, Scrooged and Die Hard, (four if you count Bloodsport). That's it. Oh, sure, there are plenty of other decent Christmas movies, but those are the only important ones (A Christmas Story is your "classic," it satisfies love of nostalgia and Christmases past; Scrooged marries real warmth and balls-out comedy; and Die Hard has everything else).
But that's just my personal tiny gripe on the subject. My real problem with these articles isn't that they should all only be three entries long. The thing is, a typical "Best Christmas Movies Ever!" list is always going to just look like a list of 10 or so Christmas classics that everybody already knows and loves (It's a Wonderful Life, Rudolf, Grinch, A Christmas Story, Muppet Christmas, etc). No one will ever read a list of great Christmas movies and be surprised, because everyone sees all of those movies growing up (because every network plays all of them for an entire month leading up to Christmas). No one's ever surprised; people just read those lists and say, "Oh, yes, good, I am aware of and a fan of that movie, yes." Here's the real problem: That list will never change, because we don't know how to make great Christmas movies anymore. Maybe we've grown too cynical as a nation, or maybe there was just a finite amount of great Christmas movies and we already made them. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that we're out. We'll never make another Christmas Story, there will never be another Bill Murray and the latest Die Hard took place during the summer. There won't be any new Christmas classics, so every "Best Christmas Movies Ever" list will look the same every year, and 20 different websites will publish that list. How many times do you really need to read "Scrooged was a good movie and took place during Christmas?"
#1. "Wacky List!"
"You've always heard that Christmas is this one way, but did you know that it was ACTUALLY this OTHER way? Here are six things about that previous sentence."
Like I mentioned last month in my article about the worst times to be on the Internet, it's important for websites to be topical and tap into whatever it is the public is generally searching for. It's why every single site will be talking about politics come next election cycle, and why you'll see 100 different soccer articles even from non-sports sites during the next World Cup (whenever the hell that is). Everyone wants to prove they have their fingers wrapped around the pulse of society.
But if you're not really a formal news site -- meaning you can't just report on the holiday or simply publish Christmas-related human interest stories -- you have to get creative (which usually means wacky). We at Cracked are lucky; we've still got Christmas-related content that's new and genuinely interesting and funny, but we've been around for a few years, and every year we publish three to six Christmas and holiday articles. If we keep that up, eventually we're going to run out and fall victim to the Christmas Journalism Curse, and we'll just be publishing desperate, hastily-put-together Christmas garbage. "8 Things You Heard About Christmas Trees (That Are Bullshit)." "6 Shocking Reasons the Baby Jesus is Like a Power Ranger." "11 Christmas Presents That Are Actually Poop." The Ghost of Crackedmas Future visited me last night and showed me all of those articles.
Give it some time, and I promise you that the well of thoughtful, original Christmas content will run bone dry, and we'll be forced to publish weirder, weaker, vaguely-Christmas-related rants.
Like this one! Merry Christmas everybody!
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and he had to ignore how much he enjoys Love Actually for the sake of #2 on this list (Hugh Grant).
For more of Dan's Christmastime content, check out Letters From Santa and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas 2: Christmasturbation.