Monday, June 06, 2005

A Note on Outrageous Lists

As many of you know, I am a list fanatic. Well, the Discovery Channel just aired a special on the 100 Greatest Americans. I anxiously awaited the special but wasn't able to view it, so when my wife handed me the list she copied off the internet, I scanned it thoroughly. Now I realize that any list is subjective and ultimately flawed, but this list is so bogus I couldn't pass up the opportunity to flay it publicly. So here are the 10 most egregious inclusions in the list and my alternate suggestions:

10. Tom Cruise--Now Tom Cruise is a decent actor and some Americans might deem him a great actor, but a great American? He has just recently humiliated himself on Oprah's show and his own publicity people have struggled to spin him into respectability. Notable omissions that could fill his spot--Lewis and/or Clark of Expedition fame or Davy Crockett.

9. Rush Limbaugh--Yes, he's a notable lambaster of all things liberal, but great American? He had an addiction problem and got fired from Monday Night Football. Notable omissions that could feel his spot--Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman, or Thomas Paine.

8. Christopher Reeve--Activist, inspiration, bad actor? Yes. One of the 100 Greatest Americans of all time? No way, Jose. Notable omissions that could feel his spot--Clara Barton and/or Paul Revere.

7. Dr. Phil--I love Dr. Phil, but to suggest he is actually one of the Greatest Americans of all-time is like saying the Clippers are one of the 20 Best Basketball Franchises of all-time. Notable omissions--Stephen F. Austin or Francis Scott Key.

6. Michael Moore--I don't even want to get started. I know that people revere this guy like an American hero, but he is an entertainer with an agenda. Yes, he is talented, but a great American? I'd like to replace him on the list with P.T. Barnum or Gloria Steinem.

5. Madonna--She is to feminism what bratwursts are to fine dining. I think Madonna has talent and influence but I would prefer such icons as Mae West, Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Jane Addams to represent my America.

4. John Edwards--???????? How about Robert E. Lee or General Douglas Macarthur or even James Monroe?

3. Ellen DeGeneres--I so didn't want to go here because it makes me seem indifferent to the gay and lesbian community, but Ellen Degeneres as one of the 100 Greatest Americans? She had a reasonably successful sitcom and a nice little talkshow, but...? Perhaps a better choice would have been Babe Didrickson Zaharias or Sandra Day O'Connor or Shirley Chisolm.

2. Brett Favre--I love Brett Favre and think the world of him and his story and all his hard work and drinking and winning stuff. I especially liked his acting ability in There's Something About Mary, but this might be the most egregious error of the whole list. I could list a thousand other Great Americans before I might choose Brett Favre. How about Steve Largent, Bill Bradley or Tom Osborne? Now I wouldn't include them either but they outrank Brett on nearly anyone's list. Notable omissions--Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Chief Joseph and Blackhawk.

1. Martha Stewart--Media mogul and convicted felon. I can see how Great American gets associated with Martha but is the American public higher than a kite? Notable omissions--Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B Du Bois, and Betty Crocker for goodness sakes.

My wife has just informed me that I am stirring up a hornet's nest with this post, but I'm sticking to it. If anyone gives me grief about Christopher Reeve, let me just mention Stephen Hawking as another great American with a disability.

BTW--I didn't even take any shots at Laura Bush, Hugh Hefner, or Michael Jackson, but I probably should have.

Additional Note: Stephen Hawking is British. My bad. Perhaps I missed that one because he doesn't have a distinguishing accent. Yet, no one has challenged my Christopher Reeve comment. Interesting...


Blogger carrie said...

you're right. what a stupid list.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You love Dr. Phil??????

That's it. I think I may have to denounce my citizenship in WilkeWorld.

Otherwise, my breif scan of your note looks like something I agree with.

11:09 PM  
Blogger janie q said...

my only objection to your comments was the martha one, i love her, i think anyone, man or woman, that can turn a catering business into an empire, deserves to be on that list. were these only celebrities? were there no doctors, medical researchers, that type of stuff, no one ever discover anything or invent anything. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
guess this list will come in handy for your next road trip. tell you're wife i said hi!

3:48 AM  
Blogger K Jones said...

I love Dr. Phil may have been for dramatic effect. I mean, how could I? He looks like a walrus and he's boorish.

Janie q,
Martha? Yes, she's talented and turned a catering business into an empire, but she's a convicted felon. Plus other empire builders not on the list--Ray Kroc, John D. Rockefeller, and Ross Perot. You are right however, other professions like doctors and inventors were woefully ignored.

4:44 AM  
Blogger Silver Boh said...

I think that America doesn't know what "Greatest Americans" means. I watched it on Sunday and I disagreed with many, but not all of the top twenty five. What was Joseph Smith's final resting place in the countdown?

7:38 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

That is really scary!! No one on that list should have been there (inho)--was it only for celebrities?

7:40 AM  
Blogger Indigo said...

Not a bad analysis of the list Tom. Were they ranked in order of importance? I'm curious who was #1?

9:08 AM  
Blogger Le laquet said...

Not being American .... I don't know who half of the people on the list are, but even I don't think Dr Phil (my nana loves his show) and Tom Cruise ( .... duh!) should be on the list!! And when you said "I didn't even take pot shots at Michael Jackson" - do you mean to tell me they put him on the list? At the moment - oh my!!

Oh and I think Stephen Hawking is British ... or are ther 2 of them?

9:20 AM  
Blogger K Jones said...

I blew it on the Stephen Hawking thing, huh. But, yes, Michael Jackson is on the list along with Mel Gibson. Click on the link in the text and it will take you to the list. I don't think the top 25 were listed in order so I don't know who they think is Number 1, but Billy Graham is in the top 25, but Roger Williams isn't in the top 100. Go figure.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Butchy said...

I hate doing this, but I think I have to be the first to object to your Christopher Reeve comments. Inspirational? Yes, of course, but more than that, he did many great things for the advancement of research and cures for spinal cord injuries. Does the fact that he waited til HE had one to do much about it change what he DID do? Not really, to me. How many of us don't really pay much attention to something until it affects us personally in some way, shape or form.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Borish seems like an accurate description (another trip to the dictionary is in order), but to even imply that one enjoys Dr. Phil. That's like saying you enjoy Chinese water torture.

10:48 AM  
Blogger K Jones said...

I knew the criticism of me regarding Christopher Reeve would eventually emerge and I will admit that of the 10 I mentioned his inclusion in the original list was most warranted, but I would have perhaps chosen Arthur Ashe or James Brady, men who also had terrible things to overcome, but lived exemplary lives that I believe surpass that of Christopher. BTW...the wife agrees with you.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Butchy said...


I would actually agree that Arthur Ashe AND James Brady should have both been on the list, as well as several other celebrities with debilitating illnesses or injuries who have used their celebrity and influence to bring about change in laws, and raise money and awareness for these causes. Another who sticks out to me in this regard is Montel Williams.

BUT, I think those people should have been on the list in addition to Christopher Reeve. It may very well be that Arthur and James DID surpass Chris, but that really doesn't diminish what he DID do.

By the way, hello to the wife! I love to be agreed with! LOL

11:31 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

I ripped when the announced the finalist a while back and refuse to watch the festivities. I mention back then that is should have been called the
"100 Greatest Americans of the past 50 years with Washington and Lincoln thrown in for good measure" because that's all it is.

Scooter McGavin's 9th Green

12:05 PM  
Blogger janie q said...

i wonder if martha is the only convicted felon on the list? maybe others just weren't caught!

1:54 PM  
Blogger Wendopolis said...

The main problem with a list like "THe Greatest Americans" Is that most people mistake celebrity with greatness. Folks tend to forget (overlook) that celebrities are just ordinary people. THey put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and I do. And I think you were right on with the Christopher Reeve comment. I am an advocate of the disabled, have relatives with disabilities, but there was something about the guy's willingness to sacrifice embryos that turned me off. Okay, don't get me started on the stem cell crap! Anyway, everyone's entitled to their opinions, and that's exactly what the list is.

2:16 PM  
Blogger K Jones said...

I didn't mention it, but Richard Nixon is on the list. I don't know if his indiscretions are thought to be worse or not. Bill Clinton is on the list and along with Roosevelt and Jefferson they pretty much have the infidelity thing covered. Your point is well made, but ultimately I'll stick with any of the others I mentioned.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Grandpa Jones said...

I am surprized that Travis didn't comment on John Wayne. K, I am amazed that you let Bill Clinton remain on your list. I am also disgusted that Babe Ruth is on their list. I guess it just goes to the point that our morals as a nation are in rapid decline. Character does matter and as for me I will look to moral men/women to be my ideal Americans. I don't think I am as old as I seem when I read my comments.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

How did some of these people even qualify? What great personal sacrifice did Martha Stewart or Dr. Phil make for our Country? What have they accomplished that has determined our future? Yes, Christopher Reeves came to be a fine humanitarian, but rate 100 of the Greatest Americans in our History? I think not.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Actually, a discussion of the Duke was budding in my head, but I decided to just let it go. All, I have to say is that, if your son like Dr. Phil, then you didn't show him enough John Wayne movies as a kid. And it is never too late to start.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous grandpa Jones said...

Travis, It is so hard to admit that I might not have reared my son as properly as I should have. There were several people that he mentioned as replacements that I cringed when I read them. The only redeeming grace that I can look forward to, he has a young daughter that is going to be his test and I am going to lay back and enjoy watching that relationship unfold.

4:54 AM  
Anonymous Brianna said...

My husband and I spend an hour the other night talking about this poll. I think the problem was with how the voting was done. There was just a list of 5 spots to randomly nominate 5 greatest Americans. I was shocked to look at the list and see so many 'celebs' who have offered no real contribution to America or Americans as a whole. What a waste of a list!

8:38 AM  
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3:44 PM  

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