Well, crappity-doo-dah. “Time” magazine has once again released its list of the 100 Most Influential People, and I’m not on it. This would be fine except there are a whole lot of people on that list I’ve never even heard of, which means that I should’ve had a fighting chance.
Sure, everybody knows Raul Castro and Vladimir Putin, but who in the name of grandma’s step-ins is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Oh. Famous Nigerian novelist. My bad.
Perhaps I should get out more. Let’s face it; my last book read was really more of a pamphlet scanned at the doctor’s office and written by someone purporting to be Joe’s Colon.
I like how every year “Time” makes a show of having famous people write the tributes for the current crop of 100. This year, Martha Stewart wrote the Kim Kardashian tribute. This read as though Martha held the assignment with her fingers as far away as she could while handing it to whatever herb botanist happened to be walking by her bedroom at the moment.
“Kim exudes … determination, impetuousness and happiness,” gushed Stewart, who clearly has never seen her subject. I don’t think I have ever seen KK smile. She doesn’t exude happiness so much as a sort of hollow-eyed tiredness. She won in the “reality star” category. Phaedra, you were sooooo robbed, girl.
I loved the choice of Hillary Clinton to write the tribute for co-most-influential Elizabeth Warren.
It was a bit devilish of “Time” to do this, not unlike making Jeb Bush write “Marco Rubio Would Be a Seriously Great President!” on a blackboard 500 times. It couldn’t have been easy, but Clinton (or perhaps her own herb botanist) wrote a glowing assessment of Warren, considered by some to be Clinton’s biggest threat from within her own party and gender.
Because the magazine’s list was the 100 Most Influential, as opposed to “100 Greatest,” there were plenty of “unpopular kids” included. Perhaps the most odious was North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the baby-faced repressor in chief. Oh, and Mitch McConnell, whom profiler John Boehner pretty much summed up as the smartest guy at the Louisville tailgate parties. Talk about damned with faint praise.
Others clearly adored their subjects and had intimate knowledge of them: Jack Nicholson writing about Lorne Michaels praised his longtime friend’s understanding that dissecting humor can make it really boring. Truer words have never been written. Occasionally over the years (take note, “Time,” I’ve been doing this since 1989), I’ve gotten plenty of angry mail from people who didn’t get the joke. I usually just respond with an extremely condescending treatise on the nature of humor, which just makes everybody madder. As Jack Nicholson wrote in his love letter to Lorne Michaels, “brevity is the soul of wit” (I’m pretty sure he stole that line from Carrot Top), so from now on, I’m going to send a one-line response to my detractors: “me funny, you not.”
Yeah, that should get me on the list next time.
CELIA RIVENBARK is a best-selling author and humor columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.