year in culture 2015

The 10 Best Lists of 2015

Over the last two weeks, Vulture has published our critics’ year-end lists. This has included everything from 2015’s best albums and art shows, to its greatest comedy sketches and comic books, to our favorite podcast episodes and TV title sequences, and much more. Today we conclude our parade of lists in a meta fashion: with a list of lists, via Max Read, the editor of New York Magazine’s web-culture blog, Following.

1. Investigation: Police Shootings, the Washington Post
The U.S. government loves lists. Thought about properly, D.C. is a stilted BuzzFeed — I mean, “Ten Most Wanted,” duh, but also “50,000 People Who Aren’t Allowed to Fly on Planes,” and “YASSS: 400,000 People We Think Might Be Terrorists So We’re Keeping an Eye on Them.” You wouldn’t believe the stuff they catalogue and categorize and organize and sort in the deep recesses of the world’s most powerful bureaucracy, which is why it’s so extremely hmmm that there’s no national database of police shootings. This is where the Washington Post steps in. This list is a good way for bureaucracy to exercise power, but it’s also a tool journalists can use to give form and shape to crimes and outrages that once seemed to defy reckoning. Linked here is a list of the 944 people shot and killed by police in 2015, compiled and assembled from news reports, independent databases, and reporting, and edited into a powerful and useful testament.

2. 2016 Presidential Form 2 Filers
There is very little about the presidential race that makes me feel proud to be American, except this list. As of Sunday, 1,446 people have properly filed with the FEC to run for president next year; among them are Emperor Frederick Lindsey Lohan Goku (Independence Party), Elsa Is Bae (Unaffiliated), and Rarest Pepe (supported by the Committee to Make Pepe the Rarest). Truly, in America, anyone (over the age of 36) can be president. Even Anus the Goat (D).

3. Here Are 7 Pics of the Jen Larry Girl You Love!, Clickhole
At the risk of overexplaining a joke, the point of this list is that Jen Larry is the Shrieking Star of the Queen’s Parade, and you love her and wish to be close to her face.

4. Top Ten Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave, The Late Show With David Letterman
No one owns the list as a form — it’s a natural resource, like Alaskan oil reserves, or the Real Housewives series — but no one is more closely associated with it in the popular imagination than David Letterman. What was born 30 years ago, with “The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas” (No. 1: meats) was finally, this year, on Letterman’s last show, taken behind the barn and shot. Like many Late Show Top Tens, the last one was (a) only sort of funny, (b) mostly an excuse for wacky guests, and (c) worth it entirely for Letterman’s own inscrutable reactions to each item.

5. Books That Literally All White Men Own: The Definitive List, the Toast
This list is an extremely boring collection of widely lauded books published in the last 100 years, and in most circumstances, a list of 79 pretty good books would not even approach the top ten lists of the year. But this one from the Toast co-founder Nicole Cliffe has something special: a good title. For all the mildness of its central suggestion — white men have identifiable taste in popular and critically acclaimed books — “Books That Literally All White Men Own: The Definitive List,” made some people extremely mad, as the accompanying list of deleted comments should make clear. It’s almost like it’s threatening to some people when white men are seen as the objects of study and taxonomy and not the protagonists of it, and when the literary canon is presented as the product of a specific group of people with a common identity and culture, and not yet another tablet-based immutable list from the Book God.

6. Arya’s Game of Thrones Kill List, Arya Stark
On a show that’s getting increasingly difficult to follow, filled with characters whose motivations are increasingly muddled, it’s nice to see at least one of them combatting the intricacies of plot and character development with a clear, concise list that acts as both a set of “to-dos” and a helpful reminder of motivation. Five down, eight to go.

7. ‘Good’ Coffee Shops in New York City, the Awl
The unexplained list is the coldest rhetorical tactic imaginable. “‘Good’ Coffee Shops in New York City” is a quietly terrifying exercise in social positioning and tastemaking. Is it right? Who knows! Who cares! That’s not the point!

8. Alleged Thieves’ To-Do List That Included “Shoplift” and “Steal Mail,” Kristina Green and Gary Withers
Speaking of productivity! The wildly popular “Getting Things Done” time-management system suggests dumping all of your priorities into a single “bucket” or in-box for rapid processing. The idea is that if you have to juggle several different obligations or priorities in your head, you’ll quickly lose perspective; by processing your “to do” items across several different time lines — from immediate actions to long-term goals — through the GTD workflow, you can achieve the clear and undistracted “mind like water.” It’s not easy, obviously, and you’ll always run into obstacles, like the police, but the important thing is sticking with the system.

9. Top Ten Calorie Searches, Google
Every year, the big digital-media companies to whom we’ve delivered most of our personal data release year-in-review packages as part of their ongoing attempts to further insert themselves into the process by which we collectively create historical memories. They take the raw material of secret queries and organize it into what’s presented as a self-portrait: “In 2015,” Google’s “A Year in Search Video” begins, “the questions we asked revealed who we are.” And, well, wouldn’t you know, we have been revealed as kind, sympathetic, peaceful people who want to “overcome prejudice” and “help the refugees.” Which, well, some of us definitely are. And some of us just want to know how many calories are in a toasted-graham latte and a DiGiorno’s pizza. This list, the late-night anxiety list, the flailing vanity and deteriorating health list, is the one that tells me who I am, I think.

10. The 6 Greatest YouTube Reviews of Quiznos Sandwiches of 2015, Gizmodo
Just a really solid list of YouTube reviews of Quiznos sandwiches.

If you like lists, allow us to shamelessly direct you to our Vulture Lists section.

The 10 Best Lists of 2015