Friday, March 03, 2006

Google Barometer of Suckitude and Rockitude

“De gustibus non est disputandum” -- Latin saying.

There are some things that seem to me to be generally acknowledged. Now of course, this is just my perception, usually. My friends tend to be pretty similar to me and we tend to agree on the same things, and, of course, I don’t talk to anybody else.

However, I really believe that there are a few things that are just cultural givens. Kenny G sucks. It is, was, and shall always be this way. But how can I prove to someone who naively believes that they hold the widely held and accepted view? Shouldn’t there be some sort of universal standard for judging the general opinion on thing?

Using Google and the cultural theory teachings of Beavis and Butthead, I have found the solution: The Google Barometer of Suckitude and Rockitude, a revolutionary tool for finding the value of something amongst people who say “rocks” and “sucks”.

Google is a useful tool to survey the impressive corpus of human writing and opinion that is the Internet. Indeed, sharing your idiotic opinions on the Internet often seems to be its chief purpose (At this point I avert my eyes). In the words of Kevin Smith, “The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.” And it’s not just movies people bitch about: it’s everything. Therefore a Google search should yield a ridiculously large cross-section of people’s opinions on a particular topic.

Of course, Google only actually locates the uses of particular texts and not opinions, and indeed usually returns way too many results to conceivably sift through them all. This is why we turn to Beavis and Butthead and their profound contribution to cultural criticism: The Sucks/Rocks Dichotomy. In the minds of these two scholars, things have a binary value of cultural merit: it either rocks or it sucks.

So here is the formula for calculating the degree of suckitude (degree of rockitude is the inverse of degree of suckitude) of a particular item: Google hits for the phrase “x sucks” divided by the phrase “x rocks”. If the name is plural, omit the s on rocks and sucks. You will then get a numerical value that you can use with scientific certainty.

Anyway, for reference here are some sample values (given in suckitude, and sorted for ascending suckiness) of various bands and musical artists:

Ella Fitzgerald 0.000 (0/1560)
The Beatles 0.008 (705/84900)
Linkin Park 0.039 (835/21500)
My Chemical Romance 0.042 (612/14600)
S Club 7 0.186 (67/360)
Sufjan Stevens 0.257 (18/70)
Animal Collective 0.375 (3/8)
Ace of Base 0.468 (168/359)
Bob Dylan 0.537 (245/456)
The Mars Volta 0.755 (538/713)
Slipknot 0.860 (14100/16400)
Britney Spears 1.778 (20800/11700)

Also, by scientific certainty, I meant haphazard curiosity. The method reflects obvious bias in a few areas: namely it only works for the kinds of people who say “sucks” and “rocks”. Fortunately, the Beavis and Butthead mentality as so saturated our culture that lots of people talk like this. However, people who talk like Butthead, aka highschoolers, are over-represented by their virtue of using sucks and rocks more than anyone else. I like to call it Butthead Bias. This explains the ridiculously high ranking of Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance

Also, there is something of an inherent Indie Kid Obscurity Bonus, so named because of Indie Kid Syndrome, a terrible condition which causes image obsessed young people to deride things popular and only like things obscure. This mainly manifests in that lesser known things get positive ratings on this scale, because they aren’t worth talking about to most people, but they have a few fans singing their praises around the clock. This is demonstrated by the apparent rockitude of Sufjan, and the relatively high rockitude of The Mars Volta (despite sucking beyond all common sense).

Oh also, there is the Old People Bias, which is similar to the Indie Kid bias but for things that are old as opposed to obscure, though it operates in much the same way, I suspect. This explains why Ella Fitzgerald has the highest score: the Buttheads haven’t bothered to say she sucks, because they haven’t heard or don’t care about her.


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