Seriously. I have been very critical of time magazine in the past. I used to look forward to the Person of the Year and 100 Most Influential issues. I'm a bit of a geek that way, but I always thought they were cool.
Today, as I read through the list of the 100 Most Influential people, I can't help but think what group of drunken monkeys throwing darts at a list names came up with this.
I'm dead serious. Some of the picks are no-brainers. Of course the President and First-Lady are influential. Ditto for Sarkozy, Brown and Merkel. But when the financial system around the world is on life support, Time magazine is going to tell us that Ben Bernanke is not one of the most influential people in the world? Maybe one of the Congressional leaders on the Banking Committees? No? Come on.
Or, with the problems in Afghanistan and it's intrinsic link to the future of Pakistan, you think at least one person from that country might be important? Maybe?
I get the idea of diversity and wanting "entertainers" and people from all walks of life on the list, but do we need 20 in each category? NO. Tell me how Zac Effron is influential outside of making teenage girls swoon? Who cares. I really like Jay Leno and Tina Fey, but they are not influential. They are entertainers. They do not influence world events unless you live in Hollywood. (Please note that Hollywood is not reality - ever.)
Also, what the heck is the "Heroes and Icons" section? Sarah Palin? I like her, I really do, more than anyone else here at LIB, but she is the only elected Republican on the whole stinking list. You're telling me that she is more influential in the Party than Paul Ryan or Bobby Jindal or Mark Sanford? No. She is not. Newt Gingrich hasn't been in office in 10 years and has more influence than Palin. Sarah Palin is well liked, but in terms of influence in the GOP, let alone the country at large, she just isn't there yet. Maybe in compiling the list, the people at Time would do well to talk to an actual Republican every now and then.
There are some legitimately influential leaders on this list. No doubt about it. But the quality of the list in part is determined by who is not on it. When you leave off people like Bernanke, or General Petraeus, or Nancy Pelosi (far more influential and than Kennedy), Harry Reid or Gingrich, or Mayor Bloomberg, or Netanyahu or the Pope, or the Ayatollah, or Ahmadinejad, or Putin, or a whole bunch of other people I've overlooked you end up with a very silly list.
The President's speechwriter made the list as a "Thinker." Really? So we're to believe that he's the one having the great thoughts and not the President himself? I seem to remember a whole bunch of stories about how hands-on the President was for major speeches like the convention speech and his Innaugural.
The only thoughts provoked by my reading of the list is how monumentally stupid it is to put celebrities on the same level as actual business and political leaders.
Time is supposed to be a news magazine. Let People do the puff pieces on how we admire and look up to beautiful people. You know why people aren't buying newspapers and news magazines anymore? This is why. There isn't any news in it. Everything is fluff. Journalists didn't even write the portraits of the people on the list, they got admirers to do them so they are nothing more than sloppy wet kisses.
When you look at this list, anti-intellectualism is not a Republican Party problem - as so many in the media claim. It is a national problem. Time, the magazine that used to be the gold standard in print journalism - right up there with the NY Times and Washington Post - is little better than people magazine, with slightly fewer bikinis. I find better, more insightful writing in a copy of Esquire, Rolling Stone or GQ than in Time magazine - whose only bright spots seems to be Joel Klein and an occasional Bill Kristol column.
We venerate celebrities for no reason and this list proves that. "The Twitter Guys" made the list Okay. I get that, Twitter is an amazing phenomenon. Who writes the story? Ashton Kutcher. A fun actor, but he's the guy writing the story? The same guy who posted a twitpic (I think that's the correct term) of his wife bending over in her bra and panties? The brains behind Punk'd?
I'm sorry, but this just isn't journalism anymore. This is a high school popularity contest.
If we want to talk about influence that actually means something and raising the standard of discourse in our country, then let's do it. We can start by getting rid of Time.
*Note: updated time when to reflect when I actually posted, rather than started this rant.