It’s getting near the end of the year which means it’s time for everybody’s top ten list about everything under the sun. I’ve never been a fan of top ten lists. I find it tells you more about the person writing the list than what the list is allegedly about.

I’m the type of person who is always looking for something new. A book, a comic, a movie, a TV show, a magazine, or whatever. Something I might have missed that I may enjoy. And I miss a lot of things. I’m not plugged in anywhere and don’t have my finger on the pulse of anything. But I look around. One place I know not to look is an end of the year top ten list.

First of all people rarely put a lot of thought into an end of the year top ten list. It’s not like they keep a running tally all year with the list in mind. I’m sure some people do but most just jot down what comes to mind as their deadline looms. This means most of the list is from the last few months of the year. A great thing from last February is harder to recall than a great thing from last week. So most top ten lists are inaccurate.

There is also a lot of group think going on in end of the year lists. Especially movie lists. I would guess that any random end of the year movie list has at least five movies in common with any other random list. And if I were to look at any random movie list there would be two movies on it that baffle me how they got there. People are willing to believe in the “greatness” of a movie quicker than any other medium. As long as others believe it too.

And top ten music lists? I have heard more crap on top ten music lists then I can believe. Music is so fragmented and genre driven that one person’s top ten of the year is another’s worst of the year. Or more probably the second person doesn’t even know the first person’s music exists. I’ve never found a song I’ve liked from a person’s top ten list. We associate music with personal events so sometimes a personal event can make a song “Top Ten” for someone and the rest of us don’t care.

The only thing more useless than a top ten list is a top one hundred of all time list. Do you know what a top one hundred of all time list really tells you? The age of the person or people making the list. You can tell their age by the time period the things on the list came out.

For example I once saw a top one hundred comic book covers of all time list. If the list were somehow made by an objective standard then the comic book covers should have been spread out evenly over time. Good comic book covers were being made throughout every decade but the list ended up something like this:1940’s- five covers,1950’s- ten covers, 1960’s- ten covers, 1970’s- fifteen covers, 1980’s- thirty covers, 1990’s- twenty covers, 2000’s- ten covers.

The decade with the most “great” covers was the decade where the people making the list were probably ages 12-22 or so. That’s when any comic book cover would have the most impact on a person. There is no way by any objective standard the 1980’s had six times the amount of great covers than did the 1940’s. It’s just that the people making the list weren’t around for the 1940’s and so couldn’t see all the great covers.

All time music lists are just as telling. That is they tell you the age of the person making the list. Once some friends of mine participated in an e-mail conversation about the best albums of all time. Everybody wrote up their top ten albums of all time. You know what? Everyone had albums on their list that came out during their high school and college years. That’s when music has the biggest impact on the average person.

Someone born ten years later would have a completely different list. And it would in no way be based on the quality of the music it would just be based on when the music was released. Just like everyone else’s list.

So there you go. That’s why I’m not bothering with looking at top ten of the year lists. There are probably some out there that are useful. But someone would have to done an exhaustive examination of a lot of books, movies, or music. I’m sure someone has. But most top ten lists are just the top ten things that the author happened to stumble onto that he can still remember as his deadline approaches. That’s far less useful.