The Most Fascinating People In America (2010)

What's so fascinating Barbara?
What's so fascinating Barbara?

What Makes People Fascinating

If Barbara Walters didn't insist on having a show on the ten most fascinating people of 2009, then I probably wouldn't insist on writing this article. Now, since I don't have a television, you may well wonder how I know so much about it. It's easy. I work on a med-surg floor at a large local hospital and invariably, in the morning, the television in patient rooms is either tuned to The View or the Today Show. Because Barbara is a shameless self-promoter we are offered countless 'sneak peaks' into her next prime time interview special. I have a lot of respect for Ms. Walters. She is certainly one of the preeminent tv journalists of our time. The first female host of The Today Show, she has interviewed every American president since Richard Nixon. She arranged an historical joint interview with Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin, beguiled Fidel Castro into an hour long chat, and has hosted other luminaries like Lady Bird Johnson, Bette Davis and the Shah of Iran. Aside from our first lady, Michelle Obama, I had to take a hard look at her choices. I was willing to admit that Lady Gaga, Tyler Perry and Brett Favre all fill an open billet on this list for musical ingenue, new entertainment industry icon and sports star. The rest...well, shocked, bewildered and apalled would describe my reaction.

Since it's my article, we'll go in the order that I am most bewildered and shocked by. Adam Lambert. My first and primary objection, is the fact that he is the product of a reality tv show. That should be grounds for being excluded from the most 'anything' list. He also held the limelight for a few minutes on the American Music Awards by simulating oral sex and having some psuedo S & M dancers prancing around on stage. Boorish entertainment, yes. Fascinating, I think not. As Adam Lambert himself said, “female artists performers have been doing this for years—pushing the envelope about sexuality”. I couldn't have said it better myself. Madonna, fascinating yes. She also pointedly discomfited the Catholic church which made her even more interesting. If we are so puritanical as to find mild burlesque fascinating, then we are a most boring audience.

Kate Gosselin. You already know my primary objection. Yes, it's that reality show thing. But it's also that infidelity thing. Your husband's infidelity does not make you interesting. It doesn't make him interesting. It doesn't matter how gracefully you handle it. There are millions of women all over the world who have handled it gracefully. Allow me to mention Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. Which brings me to Jenny Sanford. A lovely woman, a bright woman, a woman who has handled her husband's infidelity with toughness and grace. Kudos to you Ms. Sanford. Nonetheless, it does not make you fascinating.

Michael Jackson's three children. Please allow them to become fascinating on their own. I'm sure that being his child is a blessing and a burden.

Sarah Palin. Feed me Seymour. I'll just call this like I see it. I don't like Sarah Palin as a person and I don't like her politics. I don't like how she conducted herself during her campaign. She's a user. Despite the fact that I would never vote for her, I think she should have completed her service to the State of Alaska. She had a responsibility as Governor. Shame on her for abdicating her responsibility so that she could pay for her campaign, write a self-serving book, and tour the country promoting it. Shame on Barbara Walters for helping her out with this. All so that she can try to be elected to an even higher office in this country, leave it, and write another book.

Glenn Beck. “Fox news personality....” I hate to be so negative, but this just says it all to me. Oh...that and his on-air endorsements of gold which clearly conflict with his current advertising deals with investment companies like Goldline. That doesn't make him fascinating. It makes him a crook.

Barbara did not get it all wrong. I think that Lady Gaga, Tyler Perry and Brett Favre all have earned their spot on the list. Mr. Favre because of his NFL records, legendary sports status and for coming out of retirement twice to lead his team to championships. The Lady is entertaining, fresh, bold and is already becoming an icon. She is embraced not only by the music world, but by the fashion world. Tyler Perry is perhaps the most deserving of the three. He's truly a self-made man not run riot. His new film, “Precious” is reason alone for leaving him on the list, and maybe putting him towards the top of it.

So, I have dissed six of Barbara's choices and approved of four. And in the interest of being fair, it is on my shoulders to propose six more fascinating choices than those she presented to us. Exactly in the order of fascination, I would propose:

Kenny Ortega. An American producer, choreographer, and director. The director of the late Michael Jackson's epic “This Is It” concert tour. If you've seen the movie, then you know why he's in my numero uno position. Not only for his genius, but the genius around him. He is one of the most “powerful and influential Hispanics in entertainment.” He is also the director of the High School Musical series, the film Dirty Dancing, and he event choreographed the 1996 Summer Olympics and Super Bowl XXX.

E.L. Doctorow. Doctorow's latest American masterpiece is Homer and Langely. It is a fictionalized account of the Collyer brothers, a pair of eccentric and compulsive bric-a-bric collectors who died ten feet away from each other, under a “labyrinth of trash” in their Fifth Avenue brownstone. Instead of dwelling on their infamous death, Doctorow recreates the lives of these brothers and treats them as a product of their time. A modern Theodore Dreiser, Doctorow chronicles the times in which we live. Before coming into his own as a writer, he published the likes of James Baldwin and Norman Mailer. Now that's fascinating.

Cecile Richards. President of Planned Parenthood since 2006, she is a fierce advocate of women's right to healthcare and has worked hard to defeat the Stupak Pitts amendment that would restrict womens' right to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market. Before joining Planned Parenthood she served as deputy chief of staff for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. The daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, she was raised in a family committed to public service and social justice. She's a leader, a mother, a wife, a passionate advocate for women. That's fascinating.

Craig Robinson. Brother of Michelle Obama and head coach of the Oregon State men's basketball team, Mr. Robinson is a down to earth, intelligent, likeable guy and, aside from the President, is his sister's greatest supporter. This is one White House brother (think Billy Carter) who won't be embarrassing his sister.

Cristeta Comerford. Current White House Chef and chef to the Bush administration. Much to the consternation of some, Ms. Comerford was retained as the White House Chef when the Bush administration left office. Whether or not we know it, or think about it, the Chef has an incredible leadership position in this country. Supporting sustainable food politics and setting an example for the American waistline with healthy choices is all part of the job. And who wouldn't want to know what the Obamas are having for dinner. I know I do.

Stephanie Meyers. The author of the Twilight Series. I haven't read a single one of these books, but I hear teens and adults alike talking about them constantly. The first two have been made into movies which have catapulted the actors into a realm of popular stardom they likely never would have achieved this early on their own with a lesser vehicle. It's pop vampire culture at its height. I have never seen so much paraphernalia for sale related to a movie since The Lion King. Stephanie Meyers was a stay at home mother who woke up from a dream one morning and, based on that dream, wrote a novel in three months that changed her life. That's pretty fascinating.

There are multitudes of fascinating people in this world.  If we are to extol their virtues, and I think we are trying to look at virtuous people here, then some time should be taken to choose people who really have an impact on our lives and who have done something worth emulating.  Give me your top ten list!





Comments 5 comments

Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

I lost my respect for Barbara Walters since she has been on The View - terrible show!!


Ted Guthrie 6 years ago

It's time for Babs to retire. Have you thought about a career change?


J Burgraff profile image

J Burgraff 6 years ago Author

Well, yes Ted, I have. I was going to try and get on the Oprah show before she retired (as a guest, not in the audience) and after that I may tackle the Babs gig. And I'm only on caffeine (albeit a bit too much) this a.m.


Ladybird33 profile image

Ladybird33 6 years ago from Georgia USA

Very interesting lists and I really enjoyed reading it. Lady GaGa was my favorite of the list. Thanks for sharing!


trooper22 profile image

trooper22 6 years ago from Chicago

I'd have to create a hub to list my top ten, and to be honest after reading yours, I am not prepared at the moment. So I'll only say that once again you have shown your talent. If there is a career change in your future, it should be toward literature. There are few writers on these pages that can match your skill.

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