Thursday, January 20, 2011

Most loathsome Americans

When I heard of the existence of the following list of names, my immediate reaction was: "No, that's not possible. It's surely an error. There can't be as many as fifty Americans who deserve to be called loathsome." Besides, I myself would probably be incapable of even naming fifty living Americans, be they loathsome or lovable. That's like asking me to name, say, my ten favorite British TV soap-opera characters, or my twenty most boring Aussie pollies, or the hundred most arrogant French citizens (in which list it would be fitting if I myself were at least nominated as a candidate).

Although I recognized few names, the list is amusing. But it's all terribly parochial (which is a criticism that Americans are unlikely to understand). Often, I tried to guess, from the explanations, why the list compilers considered that such-and-such a person was loathsome. In certain cases, on the contrary, they sounded like interesting individuals (the targeted people, not the list-compilers). The weird idea of designating the reader as the 50th loathsome American was, to my mind, dull and meaningless. Besides, I didn't like to see Barack Obama's name appearing in the list. I wasn't able to figure out whether or not the list-compilers themselves appeared in the list. They should, I think. In conclusion, this annual list appears to be a mildly interesting idea, but the project has got somewhat screwed up, and run out of steam somewhere down the line. Maybe I react like that for the simple reason that "loathsome" is an adjective I've always loathed.

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