There have been a bunch of interesting people who have had their time in the public eye in the past year. (And, yes, that includes Mark Zuckerberg – what with his donation to Newark schools and The Social Network – but really, TIME? Person of the Year for 2010? Person of the Year for 2006, maybe – oh, wait, that year you had the weakest Person of the Year before or since, “You.” And while I’m honored, I don’t really deserve it for watching Spaghetti Cat.) I should note, by the way, that for the purposes of this post, I won’t be putting in any inanimate objects (sorry, iPad), non-human creatures (sorry, Paul the Octopus) or people like “You” (for the record, by that same sentiment, I could have chosen myself for Person of the Year if I were Richard Stengel, year after year after year, if I had a huge ego that needed to be constantly stroked); also, this isn’t the most important people of the year, it’s just the people I enjoyed, admired, or otherwise thought were fun. So let’s start off with the #5 choice for Favorite People of 2010, which is…
5. Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon
I was thinking about putting Conan O’Brien here, but Ferguson and Fallon is much more compelling. Unlike the story of O’Brien, who left NBC for a Twitter page, a stage tour and a new show on TBS (which is pretty good, albeit basically the same thing as his past shows, nothing earth-shattering) Ferguson and Fallon made peace…with a Mickey Mouse glove. In an attempt to “end the late-night wars” fomented originally by Jay Leno and Dave Letterman (and then continued within NBC by Leno, O’Brien and Jeff Zucker, who should just get out of the money-making business entirely), Craig and Jimmy created a sort of wave across America to each other and formed a sort of rapport, showing that instead of having to fight each other for ratings, they could just do their own thing and let the viewer decide. (Oh, and it led to an awesome sweater.)
4. The It Gets Better Project
I was thinking about not including this – largely because I think the message should be to make the present better for LGBT youth, not just the future – but on the whole, this is a terribly important project. Frankly, it’s unfortunate that in the 21st Century, this is necessary – but in the wake of multiple gay teens taking their own life (Tyler Clementi first comes to mind, but he’s one of many), it is. And if telling LGBT teens that things will get better for them as they reach adulthood inspires folks on all sides to rise above the harassment and violence, then I support it 100%.
3. Jimmy McMillan
“Papa Smurf” made politics fun again in 2010, a hell of a lot more than Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party (though, in her defense, the symbol for the party on the ballot for governor was a marijuana leaf, which was kind of hilarious). McMillan’s been doing this for years, as I noted on The Random Report, but this year he finally got equal footing with other candidates in the only NYS gubernatorial debate, and boy was it hilarious. Between his promise to allow people to marry shoes and his proclamation of his karate expertise (and that crazy facial hair), he was probably my favorite political candidate anywhere since Christy Mihos.
2. The Chilean Miners
Really, I should give the honor to everyone involved – the Chilean government, Codelco (the state-owned mining corporation), and the miners themselves, for getting all 33 miners trapped back safely 69 days later – but the miners, for keeping their spirits up through and through, get the nod. In spite of health problems, and the fact that they were almost a half-mile under the earth, they maintained their faith and worked as a team to survive, and in the end, all did.
The #1 choice, though, is not a team on the whole but a leader of a large group, as it’s…
1. Julian Assange
Do I love Julian Assange? No. But (at least up to the US State Dept. cables, which were probably the most overblown release of government documents ever, considering how inconsequential they really were – it was more for the amount than anything else) Assange gains my respect in the regard that he became a sort of 21st-Century Daniel Ellsberg, finding out information about corruption in governments around the world and posting it for all the world to see. Though it’s my belief that he’s more of a renegade techie than a journalist, though, I do think what he’s doing – putting the inner workings of government and military around the world to light – is admirable, at least from a certain angle. (Though, dude, stop being creepy with women. Honestly, dude.)