mardi, novembre 29, 2005

Review: Barbara Walters's 10 Most Fascinating People of 2005

Since 1993, Barbara Walters has been the host of her annual list of the most "fascinating" people of the respective year. This year, she shelled out some expected people and some not so expected ones. Lets go through the list shall we.

1. Dakota Fanning -- Her movies to date have grossed over $700 million dollars, she gets $3 million dollars per pictures and she's only 11 years old. Yes, this is the life of Dakota Fanning. The adult lives of former child stars are infamously tragic. Think Michael Jackson, Danny Bonaduce, Emmanuel Lewis, Macauley Culkin, Jackie Coogan, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, Adam Rich, etc. Don't get me wrong --- there are plenty of child stars who have gone on to parlay their earlier successes into successful careers and relatively stable livelihoods (think Ron Howard, Jodie Foster, Christian Bale, Kurt Russell, Alyssa Milano, etc.). But the pattern is there. Dakota seems by all accounts to be on the right path. I hope that she doesn't fall into the trap many child actors have --- broke, psycholgically unstable, and prone to drug abuse. I like Dakota. I think she is talented and professional, having worked with a number of Hollywood A Listers like Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Kurt Russell, Robert de Niro, Britney Murphy, and Sean Penn. Right now, I'm reading The Secret Life of Bees for my book club meeting this Sunday and I found out that Dakota Fanning is going to be playing the title character, narrator Lily Melissa Owens.

Kanye West -- He won three Grammys this year, produced another critically acclaimed CD and landed the cover of Time. Kanye is at the top of his game, which is why I am not surprised he was named one of the most fascinating people of 2005. A product of a middle class upbringing with college professors as parents, one of which is a Black Panther, one of the reasons that I like Kanye is that he is unabashedly as my friend Jalylah states, a RACE MAN. Towards the end of the interview tonight, Barbara asked Kanye to fill in the follwoing blank : Kanye West is _________. He responded by saying Black. In an era where most rappers refuse to publicly avow their Blackness or make any statements or music that reflect the specific political and race based discrimination that affects Black males in this country, it is refreshing to find one that will. "Sometimes I just say stuff to fuck with people", says Kanye. He is concerned with image but he's also concerned with Blackness. During the interview Kanye asserted that he is more offended whites whites speak in "incorrect English" to him, than when they use the word nigger. This I don't agree with, I don't think whites should use the word nigger but this isn't the time for that conversation. Kanye, in my opinion was a good pick.

Tom Mesereau --- Lawyer most famously to Michael Jackson and also Robert Blake and Mike Tyson, Mesereau surprised me as he made the list at # 3. He termed the Michael Jackson trial a disgrace, stating that he had no doubt that he would win the case. He made the statement that he was personally akin to cases featuring people of color as he feels that they are constantly being devalued in our society. Let the church say Amen! This is definitely the truth but I have always been one to be skeptical of whites who align very strongly with Black causes. I know all to well of the fetish some have with Black talent, tragedy, or a combination of the two and the lucrative business it can be. Still. I appreciated his candor. The segment featured a glimpse of his girlfriend Minnie Foxx and her two children by a previous relationship. To round out Mesereau, the segment stated that Michael Jackson was now living in Bahrain, to get away from the media spotlight that had permeated his life for so long this year. Nuff said.

Lance Armstrong --- Probably the most predictable choice of the night, this "superman" has won seven Tour de France's from 1999-2005, a race that takes 23 days and spans 2200 miles. Announcing his retirment this year, Lance plans on working more with his foundation for cancer research which has raised over 100 million dollars, spending more time with his three children from his previous marriage and planning his marriage to one of my favorite contemporary artists, Sheryl Crow. At only 34, this young man has accomplsihed more than most people twice his age. I think he deservedly made the list.

Jamie Foxx -- This is definitely not a surprise either. Oscar winner, Hollywood A-List, Hip Hop Hook King (Akon being runner up) comedian, and now musician Jamie Foxx is at the top of his game. Today on Oprah he expressed his love for Oprah, his daughter, his commitment to bachelorhood (at least for now) and promoted his upcoming CD. He also presented Oprah with a stunning portrait of herself done by Artist Lane for missing her Legends Ball. It seems like for now, Jamie can do no wrong. Though I do think that Don Cheadle should have won the Oscar (and every other award out there for Best Actor) and I proud of Jamie's success. Though I'm not a fan of his, I respect his his achievements.

Beth Holloway Twitty -- The mother of Natalie Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba earlier this year was listed as the 6th most fascinating person. What a tragedy! To go missing just like that with little to no clues -- it must be a special kind of terror and death for her family. This year also, a number of attention, deservedly so, was given to the fact that race was a prime factor (also gender and class) in the coverage given to missing persons. According the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Crime Information Center (NCIC) there are 47,842 active missing adult cases, with 30,622 missing adults missing one year or more (as of 7/30/04). Given the numbe rof people who go missing every year, what makes Natalie so special? What makes this case publicity fodder and the disappearance of oh lets say a Honduran single mother of two less special?

Teri Hatcher --- She had to be my second to least favorite on the list. Out of all the characters on Desperate Housewives, she is by far my least favorite. I personally find nothing fascinating about Teri Hatcher and her addition to this list is mind blowing. Any of the other housewives should have trumped her Marcia, Eva, Felicity, or even Nicolette.

Condoleeza Rice -- Current Secretary of State, Condi Rice made the list at # 8. Well, at least I can agree that she's fascinating in the sense that a woman who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama (one of the most segregated and racially devisive cities for its time in America) and went to school with the 4 little girls could become one of the most powerful women in a regime based on ignorance, evil, and hate. Born into the oasis of the middle class, her parents seem to have raised her in a very insulated environment, allowing her to grow apart from the racial movements and nuances of Birmingham. A college graduate at 19, Condi Rice has an impressive level of academic success and career attainment but I find her dealing within the Bush regime fascinating along with a number of other words.

Tom Cruise --- Tom Cruise has had an interesting year and his image has paid for it. From his sofa jumping on Oprah to his debacle with Matt Lauer to his quickie engagement to Katie and her even quicker pregnancy to his proselytizing of scientology, Tom has really thrown caution to the wind. He's definitely one of the most fascinating -- if not simply because he seems to have temporarily lost his mind.


Camilla Parker Bowles --- This is perhaps my greatest upset of the night. She just recently married the Prince of Wales, Charles, but their affair lasted 3 decades. They met when she was 23 but a marriage between the two was not encouraged because Camilla was a "commoner" and Prince Charles was flighty, he wouldn't commit. Both started families with other people but they continued their affair together throughout. Charles even asked Camilla's opinion on Diana when he was considering marrying her. She approved her. I simply despise deception and affairs and she is being lauded as the most fascinating person of 2005?! What more can I say.

If I had made the list, these would be my contenders in no particular order:

10. Kanye West
9. Ayaan Hirsi Ali
8. Michelle Wie
7. Zadie Smith
6. Joan Didion
5. Martha Stewart
4. Oprah Winfrey
3. Jeffrey Sachs
2. Kim Jong-Il
1. Anderson Cooper

o·nei·ric -- adj. Of, relating to, or suggestive of dreams

"Illusion is the first of all pleasures"
--- Oscar Wilde