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June 17, 2003


A couple of years ago,

A couple of years ago, the AFI decided it needed to do something about its image. No one knew who they were or what they were for, and the only time you ever heard of them was when they gave someone a lifetime achievement award. So, they introduced a series of lists of "bests" related to the movies. It all started with their "100 Best Movies of All Time" (Citizen Kane won, but this was before Spy Kids 2 came out), and then continued with Best Thrillers, Best Comedies, and recently devolved into "Best Heroes and Villains". Along the way, though, with all these lists of lists of lists, it seemed like people stopped caring, and the AFI has been diluting its brand instead of concentrating it. Several years after the first list, do we really know anything more about the AFI? Who are they? What do they do besides make lists? The LA Times agrees, and says the AFI needs to find a new direction.

What it really indicates it that nearly all of the endless lists -- whether from the AFI or some magazine or USA Today -- are increasingly apparent and increasingly desperate attempts to improve ratings or circulation without doing any real reporting or content-producing. They are sort of like the reality tv of cultural historians and editors -- they require no real analysis or effort, are cheap to produce, but they are attention-grabbing. Until -- as with reality tv -- we get so saturated we just start tuning out. The Washington Post points out today [via romenesko] that the saturation point is nearing. (They even shoehorn in a reference to New Witch to make their point.)

posted by adm at 1:25 PM | #


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