Monday, June 06, 2005

At Least Matt Lauer Had The Good Grace To Seem Embarrassed

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Gregor the Hairy (1802-1902), discovered the microfleem and once made out with Molly Ringwald's great grandmother on a visit to Smegmaworld, Armenia's first theme park. What's that, its the "The 100 Greatest Americans" not"Armenians"? Well that explains the presence of Eisenhower but how does that account for Cher?

So I exaggerate. Cher, mercifully, didn't make the optimistically titled list of "the 100 Greatest Americans" as aired on the Discovery Channel last night. But Michael Jackson, Brett Favre, and Dr Phil did. As did Donald Trump. No Joseph Pulitzer, John D. Rockefeller, Ernest Hemmingway, Sacajawea, U.S. Grant, John Steinbeck, Susan Sontag, Jackson Pollock, Aaron Copeland, Clara Barton, Mother Jones, Jack Johnson, Mary Baker Eddy, Andy Warhol, Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm, Geronimo, John Brown, H.D. Thoreau, Mack Sennett, King Gillette, or George Gershwin (never mind the fact that there would never be a place for the Berrigan brothers, Howard Zinn, Eugene Debs, or Emma Goldman). But the Donald made the list.

I'll admit up front that my personal list would be heavy on rabble rousers and impish activists but in the spirit of the survey I would be prepared to step back and try to cast a long view before selecting my greatest American. Alas, it seems a fair percentage of the folks who voted for their top 100 decided that this was the way of the Darwin supporting antichrists who model themselves on Old Europe and instead plunged ahead with the nomination of those whose names they either scrawled on their trapper keepers as young kids or maintain slavishly obsessive and very creepy fan web sites about. Hence, no Edward R Murrow but instead a distrubingly high ranking Rush Limbaugh.

From the get go I got the impression that even the good folks at the Discovery Channel were disturbed, amazed, and embarrassed by a large number of the nominees- Matt Lauer kept reminding us that the list was bound to be controversial and quirky. Bob Costas, in his role as pontificator on nominated athletes, went so far as to denounce those who voted for Favre as 'dopey.' In retrospect, the Discovery folks might have tried to clarify things by adding the words "of all time. think about this carefully. Please." to the title of the show but I suspect that given the instantaneous, thought-free nature of our modern society and the short shrift civics and history are given in our classrooms (do all high school coaches have to opt for history as their classroom back up?) that this would have made little difference. And before I get too sniffy, the British version of this saw Princess Diana make the list at number 3; horrifying given that we Brits have two thousand years of recorded history to draw on.

Of course, I'm being unrealistic in my expectations (its what makes my life fun). This sort of show no more reflects a true matirx of human achievement or greatness than the faces on postage stamps do. What it does present is a snapshot of contempary attitudes towards celebrity and pop history with little room for for thoughtful analysis or a balanced look at a person's life. So with that in mind I'm going to continue to invest in this program until the bitter end in a couple of week's time and prepare myself mentally for a massive outpouring of spleen should the public vote go against my personal pick. The last 25 are open for public discussion and voting: go here to review the candidates and cast a vote for proper historical perspective.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Tom Cruise made the list.

Debbie said...

As time goes on i lose more respect for he Discovery channel

Anonymous said...

Thank God no "economic girlie-men" made the list!

weasel said...

Debbie, if I were you I'd lose respect for the American public who nominated and voted on such inane honorees. Discovery at least pitched the tone of the show towards "you people are flaming idiots" rather than applauding the more obviously stupid selections, like Lance Armstrong as one of the 25 most significant Americans ever to have stalked the face of the Earth, ever.

Oh man, there I go again. No wonder Mrs. Weasel keeps defibrillator paddles handy by the couch when I watch this kind of thing.

Anon # 1: you are goading me, aren't you?
Anon #2: Apparently, a coherent and spatial grasp on our history is for "girlie men".

Anonymous said...

Did Allan Lomax and Michael Moore make the top 100? Because if they didn't, it just goes to show that viewers of the Discovery Channel are nothing but whitebread yuppie scum.

--Brendan

weasel said...

Mike Moore actually did, but no Lomax or highly talented BBQ waitstaff hit the 100.
Good to have you back, Bren.

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