TIME magazine has released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and New York Knicks' star Jeremy Lin tops the pile.
"Jeremy Lin's story is a great lesson for kids everywhere because it debunks and defangs so many of the prejudices and stereotypes that unfairly hold children back. In fact, he achieved success the old-fashioned way: he earned it. He worked hard and stayed humble. He lives the right way; he plays the right way," TIME said about their pick.
Meanwhile, artist Christian Marclay, actress Viola Davis, Bollywood star Salman Khan and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow also made the list, in addition to singers Rihanna and Adele and US politician Hilary Clinton. However, a notable absence is the exclusion of American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who spent nine straight years before being dropped this time. From the world of technology, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook finds mention, as does Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
"She embodies the very best of a new generation of leaders, flourishing and creating shared value in an era of unprecedented technological change and human advancement. Her energy, her passion and her relentless optimism are infectious, inspiring all of us who've had the chance to work with her," Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive of Coca-Cola, wrote about Sandberg.
However, there have been several reports criticising the list and its constituents as being unworthy of so great an honour.
"The people on Time's list are certainly interesting. They find cures to diseases, new ways to visualise data, and new ways to educate children. If I had to title this list I'd call it '40 of the world's most influential people plus 60 people who would give a great TED talk' Or maybe '40 of the world's most influential people plus some people who exemplify important forms of influence.' And maybe that kind of list makes more sense now than it would have 20 years ago," bestselling author and Pulitzer prize finalist Robert Wright wrote in The Atlantic.
Consider, for example, the tale of the Middleton sisters - Kate and Pippa. While the former's sole claim to fame is her marriage to Prince William of the Royal Family, her sister has perhaps even less reason to be featured. In fact, by featuring the two of them, TIME is potentially telling its readers they are more important than, for example, the British Prime Minister David Cameroon.
In a bid to judge just what the people's reaction to the list is, Fox News has been conducting a poll to decide on the strangest inclusion. According to the results so far, singer Rihanna leads the way, with a whopping 595 votes (30 percent). American stand-up comedian Chelsea Handler is next, with 333 votes (17 percent), while the Middleton sisters and British actress Tilda Swinton are next, with 258 and 266 votes (13 percent each). Vote for your strangest inclusion here.
"It is about the infinite possibilities of influence and the power of influence to change the world. Now you can tweet a phrase that reaches millions in a flash. Influence was never easier, or more ephemeral. Which is why we try to choose those people whose influence is both lasting and, with a few notable exceptions, laudable," Rick Stengel, TIME's Managing Editor told the BBC. So does that mean a person more active in Twitter is more powerful than those who do not take part in active social networking?
The final question must be that which concerns the selection process. Indeed, the question may well be if there was a valid one at all.
Consider the Indian entries, for example. Politician Mamata Banerjee, activist Anjali Gopalan and actor Salman Khan were chosen. Why?
What governs the choice of one person over another? In some cases, it is rather self-explanatory. In some others, a valid case could perhaps be built. In some others, however, there seems little justification. The larger question we are now forced to ask is if the TIME list itself has lost its way and its worth.
- Jeremy Lin
- Christian Marclay
- Viola Davis
- Salman Khan
- Tim Tebow
- E L James
- Louis C K
- Marco Rubio
- Ali Farzat
To see the full list, click here.