Why French television is starting to classify everything

Why French television is starting to classify everything

Cold sweat by Hitchcock is the best film of all time. Before Citizen Kane of Welles and Trip to Tokyo from Ozu. This is the ranking of the British magazine Sight and Sound who says so. The Stranger by Camus is the most significant book of the 20th century. In Search of Lost Time of Proust and The trial by Kafka come just behind, according to the list drawn up in 1999 by Fnac and The world. Respect by Aretha Franklin, she is the best song in the history of songs. Fight The Power of Public Enemy and A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke also find a place on the podium established by the magazine Rolling Stones

The written press has accustomed us to its annual tops and other “ultimate” rankings (until the next edition) of works, established with the assistance of journalists, artists, personalities from the world of culture or their readership. . In this new school year, it is the turn of television to get caught up in the game of votes and plebiscites. At the end of August, M6 devoted a prime time to 500 favorite French songsawarding the title of best love song to I promise you by Johnny Hallyday, while Tremendous by Stromae was crowned best song of the 2010s to today and All cries the SOS by Daniel Balavoine, best hit of the 1980s. This Friday evening, at 9:10 p.m., it will be the turn of TF1 to reveal to us which is the favorite program of the French. Then, this fall, France Télévisions will focus on the “favorite books” of the French

“We are in the era of nostalgia”

Nothing to do with style shows The 100 biggest laughs where the 30 Most Spectacular Stories to the random hierarchy. The methodology here is more rigorous. M6 called on Ifop, the public service set up different rounds of internet voting and the first channel worked with Harris Interactive. “1,500 people aged 15 and over were interviewed,” explains Deborah Nahon, TF1’s entertainment director. We have pre-selected a hundred programs broadcast over the past thirty years. The next two questions were: “To what extent do you like or have you liked the following shows?”, then “Among the ones you liked the most, which ten do you like the most?” »

The question we ask ourselves is: why seek to establish such a classification? “We are in the era of nostalgia, we want to find shows that have marked us, that we have been able to see with the family, which reflect a time in our lives”, advances Deborah Nahon, promising that the Saturday show will open in large the box of memories while allowing to “understand the taste of the French. »

“Classifying is a simplified reading grid”

There will be archive sequences – except for broadcasts by M6, which refused to provide the images – interspersed with testimonies from personalities (Jean-Pierre Foucault, Christophe Dechavanne, Sophie Davant, Cyril Féraud, Alessandra Sublet, etc.) reacting to these excerpts and positions of such and such a program. “It’s not expensive to produce, it’s easy and light to watch, it doesn’t require concentration. We are on his phone at the same time and we raise our heads to see who is number 18, ”estimates, down to earth, Laurent Moreau.

He masters the subject since he is one of the creators of Topito, specialized in the subject. “When we launched the site fifteen years ago, there was not yet this notion of a list everywhere,” he says. Classify, prioritize, put a little order, it appeals because it’s a somewhat simplified reading grid, it allows you to get into the subject easily. »

“What is interesting is the discussion”

The idea came to him while reading the High fidelity by Nick Hornby, where the characters establish their top 5 most appropriate songs for their funeral. “They debate and that’s what’s interesting: it’s the discussion. We cannot judge objectively, continues Laurent Moreau. When I do the top 5 of my favorite series of the year, I’m not sure that number 1 is better than number 3, but the exercise allowed me to extract these five series from the hundred that I could see. And then, in the cultural classification, there is this idea of ​​showing what we love, there is a bit of self-staging. »

A way of saying that any classification has its limits, because each individual has their own biases. We cannot be certain of the criteria motivating such and such a choice. Do we designate as our favorite show, book or song, the program we follow with total assiduity, the novel we have read and reread ten times or the song that appears on all our playlists? And it is not impossible that we weigh our preferences by opting for the proposals that we are a little less enthusiastic about but which seem to us more “respectable” or “essential”.

The limits of the exercise

And then, these rankings are not obtained on the basis of spontaneous answers – for example, to the question “What are the five programs broadcast over the last thirty years that you liked the most or that you most enjoy watching?” – but from predefined lists of a hundred titles. It is an exercise that has its own rules and limits.

In the columns of WorldJosyane Savigneau thus analyzed in 1999 the list of “one hundred books of the century”: “The game was perfectly played by those who accepted it, who chose one hundred titles from the two hundred offered to them, mixing what they had all read, for sure, – for example The Strangerby Albert Camus, title cited the most times, or The little Princeby Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (number 4) – and books of which they are certain of the importance, without necessarily having been able to read them, such as Being and Nothingness, by Jean-Paul Sartre (number 13). »

“We are titillated by the “reveal””

Neither ranking is definitive. “It’s not like the list Forbes billionaires which is based on figures – the fortune of each person quoted -, not bringing the discussion, ”underlines the co-creator of Topito. These tops are above all a snapshot of the tastes of voters at a given moment. In five months or five years, the results could be very different. By the way Citizen Kane has been, for decades, at the top of the ranking of Sight and Sound before being dethroned in 2012 by Cold sweat. Like a Rolling Stone of Bob Dylan topped the poll of Rolling Stones in 2004 and 2010, but gave way to Respect of Aretha Franklin – who climbed four places – last year.

So, will the first place of the 50 favorite programs of the French be played on Saturday between Koh Lanta, The biggest cabaret in the world, Nowhere else Where New star ? Or should we expect a surprise? It doesn’t matter, in the end, as long as it feeds the discussions and there is a little suspense. “Even if we don’t care a bit about the ranking, we are tickled by the idea of ​​seeing what comes out in the top three, notes Laurent Moreau. This notion of reveal [de la révélation spéctaculaire] is exciting. ” And you know what ? Number 15 will amaze us.

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