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The Most Fascinating People In America (2010)
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.
Gosselin. You already know my primary
objection. Yes, it's that reality show thing. But it's also that
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.
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.
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:
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.
Doctorow's latest American masterpiece is Homer
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.
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
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.
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!