Flickchartism: To achieve a perfect chart, you need a perfect philosophy
Earlier this year I wrote about the method I created to track changes in my Flickchart, hoping to prove that the changes in my chart order were getting fewer. I also wrote about a method I devised to try to prove that the changes were getting smaller. Early results suggested that they were.
Sadly, further experimentation failed to replicate the promising early results. Careful measurements, carried out over tens of thousands of rankings, proved that my chart was far from static and not getting any closer. I was greatly disappointed, but thankful to know the truth. The question was what to do about it.
I gave it some thought and concluded that the barrier to chart stability – the reason movies kept jumping around even after years of Flickcharting and over 90,000 rankings – was my lack of a clear and consistent ranking philosophy. Some movies fared well because I like them, others because I admire them. The ones at the top, of course, are those that I both like and admire. But when a “like” came up against an “admire,” I never knew what to do. Sometimes I took the high road, sometimes the low road, and the result was a chart going nowhere.
If you’re in similar straits, read on. If you’ve already got an unshakable ranking philosophy and a perfect chart, just skip to the comments and tell me how you did it.
I gave the matter some more thought and came up with a new method to achieve the perfect (i.e. motionless) chart. Here’s my system:
- Choose a ranking philosophy.
I opted for what I’m calling “attachment”: which film in a matchup do I feel more of a personal connection with? I like this criterion because it sometimes allows an “admired” film to go through and sometimes a “liked” film, since my attachment can be either emotional or intellectual. The one for which I feel a strong sense of attachment wins regardless of the reason for the attachment. It’s resulting in a pretty diverse chart, but nostalgia fare — anything I watched a lot of as a child — is doing especially well.
- Be honest with yourself at all costs.
This goes without saying, but it’s easier said than done. If you don’t stick to your ranking philosophy, you’re sunk. No exceptions, no whining. I don’t want to hear “I don’t want people to see a Sesame Street movie in my top 20,” because guess what? Screw those people. If your ranking philosophy calls on you to put Big Bird up there, then you “follow that bird” right to the top.
(Full disclosure: the Sesame Street movie that I elevated into my upper echelons is Don’t Eat the Pictures.)
- To get your chart into its new order more quickly, manually rerank every film starting with your #2.
With your new ranking philosophy, some things currently in the middle of your chart may rise hundreds of spots while others may fall just as dramatically. If you Flickchart normally, the chart will become even more unstable than usual and stay that way for a very long time. If stability’s your thing, then, you’re better off reranking each film one at a time. The logic of starting at #2 is that you don’t want to let a movie plummet into the disorder below; you’d just have to rerank it again when you got to it later. Your #1, if it needs to fall, will fall naturally when things beat it. It has nowhere to go for now, so start at #2 and let it win every matchup until it comes up against your #1. Do for that epic matchup whatever your ranking philosophy tells you to do. Next, rerank your #3 and vote for it in every match until it comes up against your #1 and/or your #2, at which point you simply apply the philosophy. Repeat until you’ve reranked every movie on your chart.
Congratulations, your Flickchart is perfect!
Or is it?
I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’ve encountered some problems. Most of them are about my new “attachment” philosophy. It can be very hard to tell which movie in a matchup I’m more attached to, and my answer can change from day to day. I had thought that “attachment” would be a relatively consistent feeling, but maybe there’s a measure that’s even less volatile. Your ranking philosophy should be meaningful to you, not something purely objective like “longest runtime” (which would be an interesting chart to see!), but if stability is your goal then your philosophy itself must also be stable.
Once I’ve gotten through my whole chart, I will use my previously-written-about methods to see if this arduous process has made chart changes smaller and/or fewer. [Ed. When the new iteration of Flickchart arrives (codenamed V2), this will introduce a whole new factor to the discussion.]
Wish me luck. But never tell me the odds.