Before I was old enough to legally get into pubs and nightclubs my weekend nights generally revolved around the television set. After The Simpsons, Father Ted, 999, Strange But True and of course, You’ve Been Framed, there would be the customary Channel 4 program presented by someone like Jimmy Carr with the not-so-mysterious prefix of The top 100… It could, and generally would, be an hour filler of non-stop, useless crap. The top 100 comedy shows, the top 100 comedy show stars, the top 100 comedy show moments, the top 100 comedy show bloopers, the top 100 comedy show credit reels, the top 100 comedy show kitchen sets and so on.
The question is; how valid was each list? Who decided that Only Fools and Horses could in some way be better than Dad’s Army? They’re both brilliant and I could never choose between the two, nor can I think of a situation where I would ever have to. If my future wife was kidnapped, I don’t think her captor would want to know who I thought was the better spiv; Del Boy or Private Walker. He’d make me do something else far more sinister.
The shows would have a collection of people who, according to the dictionary definition of the word, were “celebrities”, in the sense that they had appeared on TV by some means. They were people who only ever played minor support roles, game show panellists, ex-Big Brother contestants and so on. There was no one even remotely worthy of telling me who the best actor of all time could be.
Out of all the Middle Eastern countries, the UAE is the one that has caught Westernisation more so than anyone else. This inevitably means that the culture over here hasn’t just adopted McDonalds, Starbucks and high cholesterol; it too has adopted the pointless and meaningless methods of dictation of our interests and our insatiable need to list things by order of preference.
Now, you and I are smart people, we don’t concede to the likes of The Only Way Is Herpes, America’s Dumbest Criminals or any party political broadcast, we don’t need to be told. We already have a favourite film, a favourite car, a favourite eye-liner and a favourite dog, so why do certain mediums insist on providing us with meaningless lists on such a regular basis?
My fiancé is forever leaving trashy magazines lying around in an attempt, I think, to make me gay. However, since I do the bulk of my reading online I do like to take some reading material into the bathroom each morning…if you know what I mean. So, as I’m sitting there in the bathroom I spool through the latest copy of Ahlan! and – through all the images of scantily-clad women that I assumed were banned in UAE – there is always a list that, as far as I can tell, has absolutely no meaning or relevance whatsoever and has been as well thought out as the Euro.
Recently, in an unnamed publication, I read a list about the top 200 people in the world. Stop right there, “journalists”, how in the name of all that is holy can a list dictate the top 200 people in the world, and by what possible measure? Surely opinion would differ person to person and country to country. Osama Bin Laden was very popular in some quarters, but despised in others. Some people even voted for Tony Blair, so that proves straight away that we don’t all think alike.
Anyway, this list that I came across – complete with glossy pictures and witless captions – gave us some interesting results. Clearly, the writers wanted to make sure that they were covering every angle, so it kind of made no sense at all. Just scraping in at 200 was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and moody bastard who invented Facebook and Oprah Winfrey came home 197th. Curiously, in 185th was Hans Solo. Nicholas Sarkozy was in 174th right behind Mr. UK himself; Alex Salmond. The Queen was 161st and my personal favourite, Ai-Jen Poo, was placed 157th.
The top 100 made for even more entertaining reading, Kim Jong-Un just making the cut. He won’t be pleased though because in at 97th place was Ayatollah Khameni (Barack Obama was 143rd). Somehow, Ellen DeGeneres was 48th with Hilary Clinton 34th, narrowly beating George Clooney. Usain Bolt came in 20th, no fancy dancing this time, mate, and staggeringly Alec Baldwin was 11th.
Then we came to the top 10, and in descending numerical order – and this is not made up – we had at 10th Vidya Balan, Bashar Assad, Aziz Ansari, Anonymous (yes, 7th actually says this), Jose Andres, Marc Andreessen, Ai Wei Wei, Sheldon Adelson, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and at number one: Adele, the singer.
I am not making any of this up and I want you to tell me honestly, how many of the names in the top 10 do you actually recognise? Furthermore, how inappropriate do you think it is to have the current Syrian ruler appear at number nine? And I’m certain that Ai Wei Wei is a made up name. I have no problems with Adele; the plucky singer is very talented. But by what possible measure can she top a list of the world’s greatest people?
UAE magazines are generally good, so long as they have experienced professionals running them and writing for them. Some of the car magazines for example over here are just franchises of US and UK publications and as such are super reads. But the trashy, glossy, Kardashian-happy guff that forever lists the most inane of things is truly mind-blowing. All the glossy tabloid nonsense will only dumb down a generation, just like reality TV has done. There is nothing real about it.
History will look back at this time and laugh at us. And sadly, I won’t be around to explain that we’re not all idiots. You can see it now in the year 2413, can’t you, The Top 100 stupid things about the 21st Century…