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Creator and Artist Stories

The Onion’s A.V. Club “Inventory” lists become YouTube videos

By Josh Modell

General Manager, The A.V. Club

The folks at the A.V. Club (the pop culture wing of The Onion) have a new series debuting on YouTube this week called “Inventory,” based on the popular lists by the same name at If you chug pop culture, but like it served up with a twist, “Inventory” will delight every nerve in your nerdy body.

1) What was the genesis of the Inventory program?
Inventory started as a weekly feature on in 2005 -- we've done something like 300 of them now! We wanted to challenge ourselves to do a list-type feature in our own way, without being trite or boring like so many lists are. We never wanted to do anything like "10 sexiest movie scenes" or anything; we'd rather do "14 movies featuring tragic masturbation scenes." (Like the one in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. You know what I mean.) It quickly grew into our most popular feature; our readers love to comment on what we missed, and what they agree/disagree with.

2) How does YouTube help in your process, if at all?
We use YouTube all the time to embellish the text Inventory pieces. We'll very frequently reference movie scenes or particular songs, and it's great to be able to show and tell. Sometimes the Inventories are really long -- I've had people tell me that they spent hours just reading one and watching all of the accompanying YouTube clips. Probably while they're supposed to be working.

3) How can the YouTube community get involved in the show, making recommendations or other?
We're often inspired by commenters with new Inventory ideas, and we've always positioned Inventory as an incomplete list of whatever we're talking about. If we have 24 great films too painful to watch twice, for example, we'll learn of a dozen more that could've been on the list from our commenters. We like to think of the feature as the beginning of a conversation, not the end of it.

4) What's a little known fact about Inventory that you'd never know by watching it?
Maybe that we argue amongst ourselves about what should be included. Sometimes people read Inventory as a definitive list of things, not realizing that there are half a dozen people in a room, often vehemently disagreeing on whether something should be included.

5) What question would you ask yourselves if you were doing this interview?

Are you hungry? Can I get you a snack?