Drop It Like It's Hot


I'm at the point where I'm going to stop reading Cracked.com, and it's taken me quite a while to get to this point. I love the classic site -- at it's best, Cracked delivered great articles about history, geography, pop-culture, all with a fantastic blend of wit and information. The older articles (especially during what I view as the "glory days" between 2009 and 2012) felt like humor and education -- you could learn and be entertained. I have a great respect now for Theodore Roosevelt that I wouldn't have without Cracked.com.

But the newer stuff on the site just doesn't have the same "flavor" of their classic articles. The earliest warning sign that Cracked was losing its way was when they introduced "Quick Fixes" (smaller articles to cover topics that didn't fit into their bigger masterpieces). Sure, I get the reasoning for "Quick Fixes" -- not every topic needs a full two or three pages to be discussed -- but part of the glory of the older articles was how in-depth they got, how much you could read and learn and laugh from the topic they were covering. While the "Quick Fixes" could be fun, they also were fluff. Trivial articles for time killing.

The "Quick Fixes" then ushered in the current era: reporting on what's going on now, mostly by guest "authors" that tell you "Five Facts You Didn't Realize About Being a Cop" or "8 Things You Didn't Realize About Eating Bugs for a Living". While some of the (what I like to think of as) slice-of-life articles are interesting, most were boring and obvious. For instance, an article about Private Detectives was informative because it showed how little the pop-culture watching public really knows about that job; but, the article on prostitutes was uninformative and unecessary (you mean hookers are poorly paid and their life generally sucks? I would never have known that /sarcasm).

Meanwhile, the vast bulk of the rest of what they write about now are just news stories from twitter feeds or mistaken factoids found on the daily news. There are items I get from the Daily Show already, and, to be frank, the current staff of writers at Cracked got nothing on the Daily Show.

Really, though, I think that's part of the issue with Cracked -- it got huge, and then a bunch of writers/editors left to pursue other projects, and the website just continued on hobbled by the emptiness left behind. The people they've hired since aren't anywhere near as good (I'm looking at you Felix Clay and Christina H.), and most of the time I just skip the crap the new columnists write.

Obviously, websites will always go through cycles as writers come and go. I've had similar issues lately with the A.V.Club. A recent (2013) shake-up of staff and writers left the AV with a much smaller stable of feature writers, and it seems like the new staff is populated by even more opinionated (some would go so far as to say "hipster") writers, one that prize artistic cinema over good popcorn flicks (I find myself disagreeing more often with the current staff of writers and their reviews than I did with the older staff).

In the case of the A.V. Club there's still enough good stuff going on with the site that i can ignore a couple of writers I don't like and still have plenty to read (plus, the older AV staff went on to found a new site, The Dissolve, which I am now addicted to reading as well). With Cracked, though, I'm just tired. The last straw with Cracked was a recent one-two-three combo of obnoxiousness that I just can't ignore anymore:

  1. The Cracked Store, which sells their t-shirts, and seemingly every other day a new "article" is out to advertise what they have to sell. Cracked only ever put up four articles a day anyway, and to have one of the "prime" spots taken up with an ad for their store is bothersome.
  2. Many of the "new" articles posted (again, taking up "prime" spots on the front page) are just their old articles "updated" (and by updated, it really just seems like they've put a header on the article saying "hey, this is relevant again" and then republished the same content). I like their older articles, but I want new stuff too. Don't just give me shit I've already read people.
  3. Their emphasis on podcasts. I don't much care for podcasts, but some of their editors have Crack-casts (or whatever you want to call them) and any articles they write are basically repetitive promotions for their podcasts (I'm glad for you that you have a podcast, Adam Tod Brown -- now please stop spending two pages telling me about the podcast and how it's covering the EXACT SAME content you just wrote about). If I wanted to listen to their podcasts, I'd go over to their "Podcasts" section and listen to them.

Sure, some stuff Cracked does is still good (I know a few people that gave up on Cracked articles a long time ago, but still regularly check in on the videos), but I just don't have the energy to keep trying anymore. I love ya, Cracked, but this relationship is over.