Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The People Who Shape Our World (?)

The current issue of Time lists 100 men and women "whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world." These are the people whom the writers and editors of one of the three major news magazines (Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report being the other two) believe are the mover and shakers of Earth.

The most interesting picks come from the Artists & Entertainers section, which in itself seems to be growing more enormous and diverse even as I type these words. Practically anything these days can come in the form of entertainment. Even the simple idea of inviting friends over for the evening and serving them dinner is seen as entertaining (I know that I step into Andy Rooney territory when I ask, "Why is that?"). When our children say they are bored, we encourage them to find ways to entertain themselves. A few of the people in this section are J.J. Abrams, Tyra Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachael Ray, and Howard Stern.
I'm not sure how the list is organized in the magazine, but on the Time website, the Artists & Entertainers are placed on the top of the list. At first glance it is assumed that this is an alphabetical choice, but this is not the case. Builders & Titans are at the bottom of the list; just above them are the Heroes & Pioneers. The Time readers (or at least those who visit the website) are led to believe that Time places the highest value upon those that can entertain us. Out of twenty-five Artists & Entertainers, eighteen are American-born.

If you take a closer look at the other groups, you will find that even they are infiltrated by entertainers. Oprah (her last name is given on the website, but when she has a magazine called O and everyone knows that its hers, does she really need a surname anymore?) shows up in Leaders & Revolutionaries. Bono, Angelina Jolie, and Paul Simon are featured in Heroes & Pioneers; Katie Couric is also in this section, and she can certainly be counted as a celebrity if not quite an entertainer.

Clearly, Time thinks that entertainers are the most powerful, "transforming" force on earth. If they are, what does that say about the world we live in?

UPDATE: Tim Challies has more on the list (go here). [Welcome, Challies readers!]

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