Time 100's Entertainment Picks: The Good, the Bad, and the Puzzling

By Kevin Fallon

From Justin Bieber to Oprah to Blake Lively, how did the annual index do in selecting influential writers, actors, musicians, and more?

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Reuters


Time magazine released its Time 100 list today, and the annual round-up of the world's most influential people includes over 20 names from the entertainment field.

From Justin Bieber to Oprah, what's good, bad, and puzzling about the people on the 2011 list?

The Good:

There is a strong showing by authors on this year's list, with Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, George R.R. Martin, Patti Smith, and Amy Chua all appearing. Whether it's bringing the original novel back into the zeitgeist, proving that fantasy can be mainstream for non-nerdy adults, or launching an entire national discourse on parenting techniques, there's no arguing that the writers have influenced pop culture this past year.

The additions of Scott Rudin (producer of The Social Network and True Grit) and John Lasseter (head of Pixar) show that interesting, thought-provoking, and—get this—dramatic stories can in fact enrapture a national audience without the use of morphing robots, swashbuckling pirates, or superhero spandex.

Glee's Chris Colfer's appearance on the list elicits a huge aww. Colfer portrays gay teenager Kurt on the hit series, and is tasked with most of the show's heavy lifting when it comes to PSA-style plot lines concerning teen bullying and tolerance. But off screen, Colfer is even more eloquent as he shoulders the cause, evidenced especially by his thoughtful acceptance speech a this year's Golden Globe awards. And young actress Mia Wasikowska, who top-lined Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre, may be the most interesting in-demand actress Hollywood has seen in decades.

The Bad:

Two young male pop stars made the list—Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber—and are, along with Sting and Koren pop start Rain, music's only representation. Mars certainly deserves his place, heading the wave of new singers who also write and produce—and not just for themselves (Mars wrote Cee Lo's "Fuck You"). Bieber, on the other hand, is merely the latest in a long line of Tiger Beat stars catapulted to fame by tween superfans. More influential than him? Try Adele, who's proving that there is still an audience for a soulful, raw voice singing about heartache—not to mention an artist who is neither scantily clad or a size 0. Sting's place is especially confusing. Wouldn't it make more sense to feature a veteran artist whose music is actually in the news, like Leon Russell?

Oprah Winfrey is feted by Ted Turner in her profile for successfully launching OWN with "smart, enlightened, informative content." While Oprah is influential for countless reasons, OWN may not be one of them. Not only is OWN faltering, but its slate of programming—The Judds, Addicted to Food, for example—is barely more high-brow than the reality series following D-listers, has-beens, and weight loss exploitation that air on a slew of other networks.

It's clear why, especially with the big day just a week away, Time would be tempted to include Prince William and Kate Middleton on the list. But we're over the royal wedding hype—and their inclusion on the list means someone more interesting was excluded.

The Puzzling:

Blake Lively is the Hollywood "It" girl featured on this year's list, praised for "channeling the vitality of youth" today. Not only is it puzzling that director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, upcoming Great Gatsby) wrote the tribute—they've never worked together—but the tall, rail-thin beauty best known for portraying a privileged Upper East Sider on a teen soap opera is hardly the epitome of young America today. May we suggest the endearing, relatable Emma Stone or budding star Emma Roberts instead?

And then there's singer-turned-actor Rain, the pride of North Korea, who topped the Time 100 reader poll three years in a row, ahead of both Lady Gaga and Barack Obama. There's not much to say about that except, here's Rain:

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http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/04/time-100s-entertainment-picks-the-good-the-bad-and-the-puzzling/237678/