A List of Lists

Writing clickbait is something I can never bring myself to do. In the age of attention, we should only devote precious online energy to those who have taken the time to pique and hold our interest. These come in the form of YouTube channels, well-written blogs (not this one), news outlets who’re still fighting the good fight, podcasts and dedicated personalities.

Something that shouldn’t grab our attention, are headlines such as:

8 WAYS TO GET BOYS TO LIKE YOU, NUMBER SIX WILL MAKE YOU CRY TEARS OF LIQUID DIAMONDS

You see, why display one number numerically and the other as a word? Why promote a topic that prays on the anxieties of being a teenager? And why promise tears made of liquid diamonds when we all know that emeralds are the most precious stone one can squeeze from tear ducts?

These list articles are usually the digital equivalent of woman-hating, women’s magazines. The sort that say you’re hideous just because Chris Hemsworth wouldn’t date you, and so you should buy these specific beauty products in order to bag yourself a Marvel superhero.

They’re exactly the same because adverts relating to the topic they’re talking about are often strewed around the page, or even hidden in plain sight within the article itself.

These lists are the most basic-form of CONSUME-based advertising, and don’t deserve our attention. They make young people hate themselves, even more than they already do, and peddle cheaply made products as a solution to all of your problems. A more honest clickbait headline on these websites would be — 8 Things You Should Buy or Our Shareholders Will Throw Sacks of Diamonds at Our Heads Until Death

Why are they always going on about diamonds in these list titles?

TOP 50 STAR WARS MOVIES, RANKED!!! YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT WE HAVE AT NUMBER ONE!

It’s Empire Strikes Back. It’s always Empire Strikes Back. These lists would genuinely be more interesting if they went with something like The Phantom Menace or Dexter Jettster: The Animated Adventures.

Media is subjective, one person’s Fantastic Four is another person’s Thor: Ragnarok. Nothing is gained by one individual ranking 25+ media products in a list, with a single sentence following each entry.

Opinions of reviewers and critics do matter, as they can help judge if we should spend time/money/energy on something.

However, if you’re deciding whether or not to watch something based off of one line in a list of RANKED media texts, then you should just consumer all of them. You don’t care about how good something is, clearly, so you should guzzle them all down like a greedy little media goblin.

That sounds mean, maybe I deserve some backlash for that comment. Like 10 Times Matt Went Too Far With His Words: RANKED, or something — A real sick burn.

I’m only being mean because you deserve better. Find a reviewer you like, or even better, find several. Find someone who will at least analyse the film in a 10+ minute YouTube video, or have the decency to write a 1,000 word review.

Sure, it takes time, but far less time than you’ll spend endlessly scrolling through a timeline that’s 50% advertisements and 50% Becky complaining that her fourth engagement has been called off. Maybe it’s not them Becky, maybe it’s not them.

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NINE TIPS FOR GETTING MORE LIKES ON YOUR INSTAGRAM: HOW TO BE RELEVANT IN 9 EASY STEPS

These are the preaching to the choir advice lists. The blind leading the blind in a race to the bottom of the attention tree.

While there’s nothing wrong with a blog being about blogging tips and advice, you should always be adding something new to the conversation, and not just the same regurgitated methods that are second-nature at this point. 

Follow people, like things, engage, interact, make yourself famous by sheer distant connection kid, and you’ll go far in this digital playground.

So many blogs I see are about blogging, and made entirely of lists about how to blog and use social media. Surely they’re just a network of people who’re following and liking each other’s content, even though it’s virtually identical.

If you want genuine advice, you should find successful blogs and see what it is you like about them, what it is they do well and what can be improved on. It’s the whole “do as I do, not as I say” thing.

Very few people will give you decent blogging advice, because it’s all been said before. You should check out popular, focused bloggers, as they’ll be leading by example.

This is not a popular or focused blog.

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FOUR THINGS EVERY SELF-RESPECTING INTERNET USER SHOULD HATE

Finally there’s the hate-filled, holier-than-thou lists. The people who think they’re so smart because they’ve figured out the structure of a successful format and yet fail to fully capitalise on the medium. They tell themselves it’s because they’re principled, when in reality they know very little about pop culture, and so can’t write a list worthy enough of attention.

I’m talking about the people who will write lists about lists because they think they’re being “meta” or “edgy” by pointing out what everyone already knows anyway — The facts of the internet that people choose to ignore so they don’t go completely crazy with modern, digital living.

He’s probably sat somewhere right now, typing out another one of these so-called “lists”. I bet he’s getting pretty close to the end as well, and is trying to think of a big finish that strikes a balance between humerous and poignant.

He’s probably worrying if Chris Hemsworth was a good example of a popular attractive male, because he doesn’t have a clue what people like or want.

He’s now thinking that he can’t finish with something like that, because a simple call-back doesn’t cut it anymore and every single reader has already figured out that he’s talking about himself, so the twist has been and gone.

I suppose I could just end it by saying that writing clickbait is hard, and even though there are far better ways to spend our time, the people who write it are probably just like you, only without the plague of neurosis.

Yeah, that’ll do.


Today is Monday, November 19th and don’t you dare give that yellow-haired, ex-wrestler the time of day.

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AMC: The ‘M’ stands for ‘Movie’

With announced TV-movies for both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, it’s as though some new, young executive at AMC has just discovered that long-form series aren’t the only medium for storytelling.

You get a movie, and you get a movie! All our beloved franchises get a movie!

As far as The Walking Dead goes I think this is the right decision for the brand. Robert Kirkman and co have established his world as the zombie fiction universe. We live in the age of franchises, more content is only a good thing. Hardcore fans will watch everything regardless of quality, and word will get out if a specific film or series has a narrative worth watching.

AMC did their usual bait and switch last Sunday, as they had teased the “departure of Rick Grimes”, declaring episode five of season nine as “Rick Grimes’ final episode”. I’d fallen for their tricks before (Glenn, dumpster), so I knew the character wasn’t going to die. But I was curious to see how they would write him out of a show in which death walks on two legs and is around every corner.

Rick has been taken somewhere else in America, so that Andrew Lincoln can star in three films set in The Walking Dead universe. The latest episode was the best written in some time, in fact, this whole series is the strongest the show has felt since season five.

On top of this, they’ve introduced a major time-jump after Rick’s departure, as a way of soft-rebooting the characters and allowing for completely new narratives. This is, presumably, thanks to new show-runner Angela Kang.

I can imagine a world where the old show-runner remained, and we then had a subsequent twelve episodes of our cast crying about Rick. A (minimum) five year time jump allows for the characters to change, and have moved on from the leadership of Rick Grimes. Although I doubt his memory will be at all forgotten.

These movies can be good if they’re kept to small, personal stories — Reminiscent of the first series of the show. Some of the best narratives in modern fiction have been low-concept, character-driven stories, set in high-concept, often post-apocalyptic worlds.

The Walking Dead is a universe filled with sprawling narratives, hundreds of characters, and plenty of comic books to still be adapted. Making TV-movies as spin-offs, that feature the central protagonist of the entire show, makes perfect sense for the franchise. More of those stories can be told, and the world can grow at a faster pace, ultimately pleasing the content-hungry fans.

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But what about Breaking Bad? A show often, and rightly, cited as the best open and close narrative in TV history. Breaking Bad is the very definition of golden-age television. Vince Gilligan took a simplistic, genius premise and allowed both his story and characters to breathe over the course of sixty episodes.

Breaking Bad wouldn’t have the same effect across a two-hour story. There would be room for all of the big scenes, but entire characters, sub-plots and beautiful, small moments would be lost.

Now, rumours are that the film will be about Jesse Pinkman, following the events of Breaking Bad. Even though I think his character’s eventual fate would be best left to speculation, and that more time spent with Jesse would weaken his characterisation, I also didn’t think an entire show about Saul Goodman was necessary, but it remains compelling television.

My main issue here isn’t Gilligan’s need to return to his established universe, but that we’re to only get a couple more hours in it.

If AMC had announced a Breaking Bad sequel, with Aaron Paul as the lead, following the life of Jesse Pinkman ten years after his escapades with Walter White, then I’d be all-in. Gilligan has proven himself a highly competent storyteller, who has a real gift for long-form television narratives.

I’m worried that a TV-movie, two hours of new content, would either feel too rushed OR be kept small-scale, but leave us wanting more. No matter which it is, the Breaking Bad sequel film likely won’t feel as satisfying as a brand new full series, or it not even happening at all.

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Movies based on TV shows rarely work, and a successful transition in the opposite direction is more common. The fact that AMC are slated to be making them as TV-movies work in favour of the projects, as they will be kept on a smaller-scale and hopefully close to the narratives they blossomed from.

I’d like to see Vince Gilligan eventually work on something that isn’t set in the Breaking Bad universe. He can tell a similar story — Character-driven yet still about the deep world of organised crime — with a similar tone, and nobody would complain.

His ability to create richly unique and compelling characters is enviable, and so, personally, I’d like to see that brain put to use on a new story. However, we live in the age of franchise and bankable property, and unless your name is Stephen King, you aren’t going to get by as a writer on your name alone.

It could be that Gilligan has many ideas for other TV shows or movies, but AMC is throwing enough money at him to continue telling the stories of the people he originally dreamt-up a decade ago.

It’s as though AMC have remembered that the M in their initial stands for Movie, and so now they’ve decide to return to the roots of their original branding without thinking too much about the consequences.

No matter how I feel about them, they’ve peaked my interest enough for me to watch the movies of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad universes, and that’s all that matters from a business standpoint.

People, like me, complain about the over-reliance on established franchises in modern fiction, but we only have ourselves to blame. We’re the ones who’re still shovelling it all down, like the filthy little content goblins we are.


Today is Thursday, November 8th and bigger things have happened in the last twenty-four hours, I just needed to write about something light. Stay safe, hold on to each other.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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