As December draws to a close we are generally bombarded with retrospective looks at the year. There is something natural about this: making sense of how we got here from there is never a bad idea. Yet why this nauseating tendency to make top-ten lists in all kinds of inappropriate categories? I am all for some playful, and personal, top-tenning in the style of High Fidelity, for it does no harm, and represents the ordering of one’s inherently messy existence. But who decides, say, the top ten weather disasters of 2009? Or the top ten celebrity deaths of 2009? This is not a considered or sophisticated way to reflect on the past; it is more like gawking at dead bodies. It is akin to the ‘like’ feature on social networking sites, where reports of exams passed and dogs dying are all ‘liked’ alike, which seems to mean, like, that you acknowledge it, or, like, something. I don’t much like ‘like’, and for the same reason, I don’t care for inappropriate top tens. With wanton inappropriateness, therefore, here are my top ten inappropriate top tens for 2009:
Top Ten Pariahs (Time) – nothing says ‘outcast’ like being on a Time top-ten list.
Top Ten T-Shirt Worthy Slogans (Time) – please. T-Shirts shouldn’t be talked about. Slogans the less so. In combination, celebrated in frivolity in serious news magazines? No, no, no.
Top Ten Breakups (Time) – nothing about celebrity, especially not the bad stuff, should be celebrated.
Top Ten Cryptozoology Deaths (Cryptomundo) – how gutted would the family of a recently deceased cryptozoologist be if they didn’t make it on to the list of top dead cryptozoologists? Or how happy?
Top Nine News Moments of ’09 (CBC) – special mention because doing a Top Nine is so lame.
Top Ten Humanitarian Crises (Medecins sans Frontieres) – imagine being 11 on this list. That would suck. This is surely not list material.
Top Ten Dirtiest Hotels (Tripadvisor) – bottom ten might have been better.
Top Ten Layoffs (Fiercepharma) – newsworthy, yes. Top Ten, no.
Top Ten High Concepts (Greentech) – this list wasn’t one of them.
Top Ten Foreign Policy Blunders (Powerlineblog) – hardly light-hearted ‘ooh let’s make a list’ material.
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