Thursday, August 15, 2019

50 Greatest Celebrities of All Time

As a way to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Why Won't You Grow, I'm going back to a bread and butter topic of this blog that I used to write about lots and lots of time in the past.

Celebrity and fame.

Using work already started by The Ringer Web site, I've got "a" list of the greatest celebrities of All Time provided below, along with a podcast focused on this debate. If you've got the time and interest, I suggest you listen.

But if you want to skip that, I've reproduced their list below--ranked from No. 1 to No. 50. And I'll try to provide my own reaction to each choice . . . if I recognize them.

Happy reading!

1. Oprah
I guess I'm not surprised by this. Everyone is always saying that Oprah is successful and rich and influential and famous and stuff. If all of that doesn't add up to you being the best celebrity, what is it all for?

2. Beyoncé
I guess I'm not surprised by this either? But there is a part of me that chalks this up to recency bias. And maybe that part of me just doesn't care that much about her music?

3. Muhammad Ali
My children's generation will have no connection to Muhammad Ali whatsoever. And I'm sure that when they are in charge, he would never get ranked in the top twenty, and absolutely never within the top 5. I have no direct connection to Ali personally. But I know enough to know what a pivotal cultural role he played at a tumultuous time.

4. Princess Diana
Come on. I reject this. But even so, I can't deny she matches up with the notion of "celebrity" which is being famous for being famous.

5. Tom Cruise
If the Top Gun: Maverick trailer had not come out two weeks ago, would Cruise's ranking have slipped further down the top 10?

6. Madonna
This is the opposite of recency bias, I guess? What has Madonna done in the last twenty years that justified such a high ranking? Or am I simply discounting how BIG she was in the 1980s? But then . . . what about Michael Jackson? He was definitely as influential as Madonna--as well as being controversial. But maybe it is the nature of the controversy that priviledged Madonna?

7. David Bowie

8. Rihanna
I don't get it.

9. John Lennon
I do get it.

10. Jesus Christ
I see what you did there. And I cannot fathom that Rihanna is ranked higher than Jesus H. Christ!

11. Marilyn Monroe
Perhaps the embodiment of the modern media celebrity?

12. George Clooney
It is so much harder to be a celebrity if you aren't i.) handsome/good looking and ii.) charming. Take those two things away from George Clooney and what is he? Mark Ruffalo?

13. Cher
Okay. Cher has been famous for a long time.

14. Brad Pitt
See George Clooney, but subtract a significant amount of the charming part and bump up his acting skill level.

15. Leonardo DiCaprio
What makes him famous? "Titanic"? His man-about-town status?

16. Jack Nicholson
True fact about me. I always have to mentally pause and think Jack Nicholson . . . the actor? Or Jack Nicklaus . . . the golfer? Nicholson is definitely the bigger celebrity of the two--thanks to Nicholson's own personal and professional choices, for sure. But don't sleep on Nicklaus. He's been a damn good, historically great sports figure for all of his adult life.

17. Prince
No way am I okay with Prince being so much lower than Rihanna here.

18. Arnold Schwarzenegger
It's naht a  misprint! (And Stallone must be really angry about this.)

19. Lady Gaga
If you are willing to wear a meat dress in public, you get inside the top 20, I guess.

20. Elizabeth Taylor
What is the contemporary equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor? My mind immediately went to Anne Hathaway. What say you?

21. Jennifer Lopez
Too bad it wasn't made of meat. (If you're reading this on mobile, go to the Web version and click the link.)

22. Joan of Arc

23. Michael Jordan
Being the unquestioned best at the top-level achievement of your profession is not--apparently--as significant as being famous and media-worthy. Skill does not equate to fame.

24. Bruce Lee
At the risk of offending people, this feels a bit like tokenism and also . . . if "Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood" wasn't just released?

25. Ariana Grande
The highest-ranking Disney Channel kid? Or Nickelodeon kid? Promise you that the Ringer staffers who made up a lot of this list have an average age of 25.

26. Will Smith
Big Willy Style can't be more historically inspirational than being guided by voices, right Joan? And it helps to be a martyr. If Joan had avoided being burned at the stake, she would have been eventually penalized for the historical equivalent of "Wild Wild West." (Never outlive your fame, I guess.)

27. Napoleon Bonaparte
I know at least one person that is going to be salty about this number.

28. Aretha Franklin
Let me be the millionth person to make the joke that Aretha ain't getting enough R.E.S.P.E.C.T. on this list.

29. Kanye West

30. Elvis
Southern tokenism

31. Paul Newman
Deserves to outrank Ariana Grande on the basis of "Cool Hand Luke" alone. PLUS his post acting charity work. AND for the fact that he may have the only good Hollywood marriage in recorded history.

32. Drake
Canadian tokenism? And if he'd been a child actor on an American network . . . what then?

33. Tom Hanks
Probably ranks lower than he should because he is also hit by the Michael Jordan issue (fame trumping actual skill). But maybe also Hanks benefitted from having incredibly good timing? He was in the biggest, most influential movies at a very specific and intense time in Hollywood history. Is he that skilled of an actor is you are being brutally honest? Rember that Hollywood success is driven a lot of networking and timing--and if the timing isn't right the networking won't work at all.

34. Nicolas Cage
See? Based on a pure evaluation of fame (but not acting skill, mind you), I think that Cage edges out Hanks. Cage is just willing to play the celebrity bizarre card more than Hanks ever has--or will.

35. Michelle Obama
This is just a straight-up insult to First Ladies. Michelle Obama has tried to do more to help people with her recognition and her notoriety than Nick Cage EVER. Stop it.

36. James Dean
Your grandfather's celebrity of choice. But why not John Wayne? (Left Coast bias, Ringer staff?)

37. David Beckham

38. Meryl Streep
Again, it's pure Jordan Rules that ended up pushing Streep below David freakin' Beckham here. And truthfully she'd probably be ranked even lower if not for her recent run as the Academy Awards audience meme lord.

39. Jane Fonda
Barbarella gets no love. And has America already forgotten that she taught us how to aerobicize?

40. Frederick Douglass
Wow. Unexpected and insulting simultaneously.

41.Shaquille O’Neal
Well, at least the great abolitionist reformer and historical influencer outranked the Diesel Shaq Daddy.

42. Michael J. Fox
He did more for puffy vests than anyone!

43. Mariah Carey
Go peddle your vocal flourishes somewhere else.

44. Dwayne Johnson
This low ranking will only propel him to more insane bicep dimensions. You've all made a terrible mistake.

45. Diplo
Definitely, Lego is better.

46. Sophie Turner
Without Instagram, she would be nowhere on this list.

47. Joan Didion
I wonder how she feels about being ranked below her son Diplo?

48. Cara Delevingne
I cannot begin to explain this position for Cara. Is being a former friend of Taylor Swift + getting a John Green bump matter THAT much?

49. Guy Fieri


50. Jamie Foxx

1 comment:

David said...

I'm SO committed to evaluating this list seriously that I didn't even notice (until listening to the embedded podcast) that Michael Jordan was ranked at 23.