(Published in Sify.com on 3 May, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sify.com/news/ten-lists-they-need-to-stop-making-news-columns-mfdlRkjebhd.html)
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You know that time of year when nothing’s really happening, and everything that has just happened – elections, budget, rail budget, arrests, humanitarian crises – and everything that is about to happen – Indian Presidential selection, US Presidential elections, the Olympics, the end of the world – have been analysed to death, so we really need a reprieve?
For some reason, the powers-that-be decide to make Lists to relieve people from the burden of reading erudite writing. And so it is that our Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines – or vice versa – begin to fill up with the most controversial lines of all time, the most viewed wardrobe malfunctions over the past ten years, the best cricketing innings of all time, the worst villains in movie history, the most dangerous criminals in real world history and god-knows-what-else. Worse, there are appeals by email for us to vote on the longlists and shortlists of these to-be-made lists.
After much exasperation, and very little thought, here’s a list of ten lists I’d really like to see the end of.
1. 100 Most Influential People
Dude, really, it’s bad enough you have a final list of hundred! I mean, that’s bigger than any class of mine in any school, college or university I’ve gone to. And then, you want me to vote on a shortlist whose length I can’t figure out because you want me to see it slide by slide, along with all the achievements of the purportedly inspirational folks you’ve decided are most influential. Yeah, I suppose this has to do with TIME’s list. All right, so your magazine is awesome enough to cause a near-riot after featuring a man who allegedly did cause a riot on its cover. But, but, but how seriously do you expect me to take a list that could have Rihanna and Mamata Banerjee vying for the Best Dressed award at your gala?!
2. Best Opening Lines of Books
So, every newspaper and literary supplement that expects to be taken seriously brings out an annual list of best opening lines that rarely incorporates anything written over the past 50 years. And the comments nearly always have to do with the lines that were left out. So, all the authors died and made you the judges of the best lines they wrote. But do you realise that you’re only supplying with pickup lines the sort of men who would take this piece by Rosemary Urquico at face value? Worse, you’re keeping alive a quizzing staple that should have died with the authors.
3. World’s Richest People
It’s not just the Fortune 500. It’s every darned publication that decides to come up with this list. What exactly are they trying to tell us anyway? The best way to get rich is to drop out of college 30 years ago and invent fancy technology? The only way to get rich is to inherit Daddy’s money, which itself is inherited from an ancestor who illegally emigrated from India and immigrated into someplace? All rich people are ugly? You can also get rich if you marry a rich person who’s fighting with his or her children? These are the folks your country’s tax department ought to be chasing? Look at the life you can never live? All rich people build ugly houses? I mean, really, what?!
4. Most Beautiful People
All right, People, and I mean with the italics, Harrison Ford was never beautiful. Yeah, he could throw a lasso and all that, but no, he was never beautiful. All right, leave Ford aside, is there anyone from Hollywood who hasn’t been featured on that list? Joe Pesci, maybe? Or Danny DeVito? Or Abraham Lincoln? Yeah, whom are we kidding, Abe’s been featured more in Hollywood than on currency notes. Not only is the list crazily far-fetched, and entirely implausible, it gets updated less often than its constituents do. It’s about time you gave yourself a facelift, no?
5. Top 10 Movies of All Time
Why do you even bother? Do you want to get trolled simply to hike up pageviews? It’s seriously hard to make a list of top ten movies of the month without running into controversy, so why bring in all time? You’re making the kind of list where The Godfather, Bridges of Madison County, The Artist and Slumdog Millionaire will squeeze themselves into the same screen and give multitudes of film critics of multiple persuasions simultaneous seizures. You’re also begging several screens of abuse from the ardent readers who worship the server you work on.
6. Highest Paid CEOs
All right, so we were curious once. Now, I mean, mehhhhh. So, Indra Nooyi is the poster girl for the crusade against female foeticide/ infanticide. She’s also the name people use to justify bad property investments on the outskirts of most of India’s metros. Whaa...okay, nevermind. But, why, really, do we need to know how much all these people are being paid, unless it’s to expose some kind of mismanagement in the finances of the institutions that pay them? Isn’t it, like, bad manners or something to go around asking people their salaries? We all know that high-profile CEOs rarely change, so honestly, now it’s like watching ten tired people pass the ball among each other. Again, mehhhhh.
7. Most Popular YouTube Videos
Why, ya? You want to make people run and go YouTube all these popular videos and notch up their views a little more, huh? Sigh. Now, if these were interesting, educative, or downright silly, I’d have no grouse with them. Most of them are annoyingly cute. Like babies lisping at each other. Or a dog making faces while someone dubs away. Or annoyingly annoying. Like tone-deaf teenagers singing about partying away in cars they shouldn’t be driving. Yes, we all know we have bad taste, but why throw that in our faces now, and make celebrities of the world’s least talented?
8. Best Photographs of All Time
Okay, so we’ve seen the naked girl running from napalm, we’ve seen the vulture hovering over the starved child, we’ve seen the nurse and sailor making out, we’ve seen the Afghan girl, we’ve seen the man with tears in his eyes and despair on his face at the Gujarat riots, we’ve seen the guy clinging on to a tree as the tsunami washed over South East Asia...and you want us to see them again, year after year? Because unless the world is facing something horrible, good pictures are never taken? Now, iconic images are a click away. Why don’t you focus on the images we don’t see all the time instead, the ones that could turn iconic given a chance?
9. Dream Team of All Time
Every sport has it. And this is quite the opposite of the never-changing lists we’re constantly exposed to. Because the memory of the sporting fan is short, as is that of the compiler-of-all-time-sporting-
lists. And so it is that the All Time Greatest XI would have Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli doing fist bumps with Gary Sobers and Don Bradman. Or A-Rod and Babe Ruth sauntering around the Yankee Stadium. Worse, since about five people on the team are likely to have played at the same positions, chances are that this best-team-of-folks-with- arthritis-or-dead would likely lose to any team from the bottom of the table.
10. Books Banned in India
Because you can burn all the Taslima Nasrin books you fancy, and picket every Salman Rushdie appearance you will, but chances are you’ll find Satanic Verses staring up at you when you’re running circles around Connaught Place, trying to find Side Wok or Nirula’s orQBA. Really, do we need Jeffrey Archer to announce every year that the reason he first releases his books in India is that we’re such wonderful pirates? Lists of banned books are irrelevant in this country. I mean, forget pirated versions, chances are that if you stepped into an old bookshop, you’ll find yourself tripping over banned books.