An interesting study in how media manipulates us can be made of Time magazine's list of 100 Most influential people.
I scanned the list and recognized not really more than half a dozen - including Hillary Clinton, Obama, Cardinal Dolin. Now I am not really 'up' on pop culture, but I wouldn't expect that I would have to be - aren't these the 100 most influential people in the world - and aren't I in the world?
First of all, why is Dolan there and not his boss? Why - because that's boring. Every expects the pope to be there, but what about this bishop from New York? Now that's interesting! Maybe there's something I need to know that I don't? Maybe I should read Time magazine so I can learn about all these people that everyone else seems to know about but I dont'?
That's one way Time is manipulating us.
Now I'll study the list a little more closely. Aha, yes, there is that Asian basketball player that I remember reading about. And, so, how is he influencing the world? Selling more Nikes to inner-city Asian kids? That's the best the world's got? Okay, it's not a list of the best, but the most influential. Selling sneakers is a thing. I don't know if it's one of the world's bigger things, though.
Manipulating me with the requisite women and non-white people.
Viola Davis is both. Apparently she was in a movie called The Help. An attractive black woman. Now, that's inspiring.
Also, there is a woman named Kristen Wiig. I recall seeing her name, because I like Saturday Night Live and was recently watching You Tube clips from the show. I love comedians, so I have a soft spot for that kind of talent. But whom has she inspired, other than those hundred or so American young women who want to become professional comedians? I think there is something else going on here.
There's the brown guy, Salman Kahn, who, apparently does online educational stuff. Never heard of him, but he sounds a lot more admirable than Lady Gaga, of whom I have heard (but who is not on the list).
Maybe the point of all this is...
But most of all, in the roil of a difficult time, he seemed smart and steady, trustworthy. Monuments are not often built to politicians who are merely trustworthy, but they do tend to win re-election.
Of whom is the author speaking? Obama, believe it or not. Are you kidding me? So, I am to believe that it goes without saying that Obama is trustworthy? No one can doubt that, is that what you are telling me? And he gets to be included with all the philanthropists and other-feel good people who inhabit the other 99 spaces on this list?
It's a feel good list meant to make you vote for Obama.
I mean, I'm no expert, but a man who has done more than anyone to bankrupt the US Federal Government is not 'undoubtedly trustworthy,' no matter what your social views are.
Also appearing on the list is the CEO of Planned Parenthood. Is there a theme here? Sure, there are two of the Republicans who have fought for the leadership bid, and the one Romney is quite good. This is all smoke and mirrors, I fear. The pretense of objectivity.
I didn't like this list. I only knew or even recognized about a tenth of the people.
* I should hasten to add, however, that selling Obama ranks a distant second to the primary objective of this piece, and that is to sell Time. In other words, this list is carefully crafted by people who have carefully studied us - in the very same manner that Harper's stance on abortion only makes sense as a response to a careful study of us. Now that's crass and something I cannot respect. But what's worse than the writers and editors, who, one can assume, are consciously manipulating the masses? Those who believe that to do this kind of thing is the same thing as to pursue truth, that is to say, people who believe that the opinion of the people is the truth. Products of pop culture - and there are millions of them out there - equate fashion with fact and see in the manipulated movements of the masses something worthy of attention. They would see in this list something more than it is: twaddle produced by people determined and clever enough to increase the magazine's circulation.
But what I hated was their 100 Most Influential People Ever List. They got it about half right. But like everything that comes out of the US pop culture, shockingly biased to the US. Winston Churchill doesn't make it but Hitler and Roosevelt did. Not to mention Marlon Brando.