Time magazine released their annual 100 Most Influential list today and while it's mostly your typical mishmash of heads of state, captains of industry, and stars of stage and screen, there are a few things about this year's list that strike us as particularly wrong.
They are as follows:
1. Ugh, Chelsea Handler. Obviously Time picks a few lighthearted people every year and obviously this list isn't actually an indicator of anything really, but still why did they have to go and pick Chelsea Handler? She's the unfunniest of the unfunny, someone who trades in cheap, dated insults and calls it comedy and who brings guests on her show, Chelsea Lately, who are even worse than she is. Plus, in the grand-spirit of Handler's datedness, doesn't putting her on a list of influential people in 2012 seem a bit off? Sure her talk show is still popular enough, but her sitcom Are You There, Chelsea? tanked and she seems to have retreated from the cultural conversation in the few years since her real heyday. The fact that she's something of a producing/business mogul is certainly interesting, but this still feels like a lazy choice.
2. Mitt Romney is on the list, because of course, he's basically the official Republican candidate for president this year, which is pretty influential, but his little writeup is penned by none other than Bill Bain, Romney's old boss at the ominously named "creative destruction" company Bain Capital. Aren't they trying to humanize this guy, make him seem not so much like a younger, Mormoner Ebenezer Scrooge? Having his old mentor Lord Bain from Bain Industries write a little rhapsody for him is not exactly sprinkling him with the salt of the earth. If the Romney campaign had any say in who wrote this thing, they did not make the best choice. Couldn't someone a little more blue collar have written something nice about him? Like maybe one of his servants? Oh, wait, yup, same problem, huh?
3. Matt Lauer is fun and all, we're always guessing where in the world he might be and then he pops up and says "Here I am!" and that's a great time, but how exactly does Matt Lauer qualify as anything remotely resembling "influential" out here in 2012? Yeah he just had a somewhat public contract renewal — people were speculating that he might be retiring, with Ryan Seacrest taking his place, but no just kidding he's staying to make more millions of dollars — but that's about the only news he's merited in a long, long time. Again, the Time 100 is not some legally binding document that asserts these people into any actual positions of authority, but of all the influential/intriguing/entertaining/whatever people out there, Matt Lauer ranks pretty low these days. It's a pleasant, smart, affable low, but it's still low.
4. E.L. James has had a moment recently and all, her BDSM sex novel Fifty Shades of Grey has been good blog bait and sold well, but we are still talking about what started as Twilight fan fiction. Really. Look it up. Change Christian to Edward and Anastasia to Bella and that's how part of the book originally read. So that probably doesn't merit inclusion on this holiest of lists, does it? Though, hm. We are sitting here typing and reading about Twilight fanfiction in the middle of the day, so... OK, yeah, maybe that is pretty damn influential.
5. How can you do an influential people list and not put Lena Dunham on there? Time have you even seen the internet lately? Based on all that noise, if Dunham, who created the hotly debated new HBO show Girls, is not influential then we don't know what that word even means anymore. Sure this list was decided upon probably a good deal of time before the manic swirl about Dunham and her show really kicked into high gear, but still. Don't you guys have any cultural precogs over there at Time? Couldn't someone have seen this coming? A little prescience could have gone a long way, because right now Lena Dunham has influenced approximately fifty trazillion blog posts. That's more than Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson Miller, who did make the list, can say, isn't it? Did Grantland write something about you, Portia? Didn't think so.