Lists have become one of the most prevalent forms of content creation on the internet. It is one of the easiest and most inexpensive formats to procure, but it is also the shallowest and easiest to consume. The list has also become a mainstay on film blogs and blogs in general, and is indicative of bloggers’ inability to produce more meaningful content. Here I am going to express my opinion to why these lists are so prevalent, and why they give a writer a false sense of film knowledge while creating shallow fluff for readers.
I am not talking about the prevalence of top ten lists that tend conclude the year, I am specifically discussing the arbitrary collections of films that happen to fit a specific theme. Lists are indeed an important way to chronologically list the importance of a particular subject, and even provide the public with valuable information. Some lists about film have an important function in history and culture. Sight & Sound release a list every decade that is a consensus of the greatest films ever, and AFI has released dozens of lists, one hundred titles long. These lists are created by polling filmmakers, critics, and professors.
Several years ago, during a brainstorming meeting for CinemaFunk, someone expressed that lists are an excellent way to attract readers. Except readers rarely read the lists, they scan them. Content creators are aware of this and utilize this as a deliberate strategy to inhibit easy consumption, especially if they follow the F-pattern. This sort of content creation is exactly the opposite of the reason why I created CinemaFunk in the first place: to be an outlier that interprets recent and classic films, as well as discuss topics and issues that affect filmmakers, spectators, and culture. In other words, aside from yearly top ten lists and half-year lists, this site does not do lists.
Sure a writer could provide a detailed reason for a film’s inclusion on a thematic list, but the title is often times shown in a secondary or tertiary headline in bold. Essentially, a visitor can land on a page then quickly scroll down a page to see an entire list, and then provide a quick comment. It is exactly what a published or content creator wants; a page view and engagement. It gives the visitor a sense that they can provide encouraging thoughts towards a false discussion and the content creator also gains a false sense of providing to the film community.
Lists are a deliberate content creation strategy that is beloved by editors because they are incredibly easy to produce. The strategy is also beloved because lists assist with a publishers search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. SEO is an industry where marketers and publishers work tirelessly to rank well for specific keyword phrases. CinemaFunk also uses SEO to rank well for specific keyword phrases, but refrains from creating arbitrary lists because of the reasons outlined in this article. In the end, these lists litter search engine result pages (SERPs).
Yet, it should be noted that lists are developed by those who love film, but they have confused their film knowledge and with decent analysis. Even those who are aware of this discordance, they still choose to produce film lists because they provoke page views and comments, and therefore profits. Despite this tirade against these lists, those who write these lists do it because they love film and they want to talk about it. That is the reason why most film blogs are created, CinemaFunk not excluded. However, it is important for writers who love film, and those who enjoy reading about film to understand the reason for these lists to exist and why they are so prevalent.
This prevalence gives future writers a false idea that this is great writing. Instead of learning to find patterns and then analyze them, they simply develop a theme and provide a list of films that happen to fall into that theme. Along with re-spinning production news and rumors from other sites, one can easily develop a website devoted to film based on these two content creation ideas. That is why so many film sites are a dime a dozen.
It might appear that I am attacking the intelligence of those who create these lists and those who read them. That is not the aim of this article. Instead, I have presented information that explains how these lists create a systematic infinite loop of poor content. I almost beg to suggest for those who write about film who rely almost entirely on developing lists of films based on a theme to instead find a new way to present this information. Furthermore, I ask for those who enjoy reading about film to understand how these lists are designed for you to not comprehend, but to briefly scan, and essentially ask for more in the content you read.