a TIMEly response
by (a superhero named) tony

Kurt Loder, I expected more from you. Every TIME I see you on MTV, I swear you get this sardonic laugh behind your eyes when you talk about how great Puffy is.

Kurt Loder, the Most Influential MTV News Anchor of the Century
Kurt Loder, the Most Influential MTV News Anchor of the Century

So maybe I expected you to overcome the homogenized journalism that made up TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of the century list (despite the few pages dedicated to each person, it really was just a list). These are the people who brought us the skewed view of musical history: Bob Marley starting everything in Jamaica, Chuck Berry turning to Elvis turning to the Beatles. And tell me, why was Electronica even given mention? These are the people who neglected the Skatalites as giving Marley a career, Carl Perkins writing the songs that the skinny good Elvis made a living off of (the same tunes the Beatles covered in their early days), and the fact that Prodigy just plain sucks. Kurt, I expected you to stick up for music as it has come to be at the end of the 20th century, but you just fell into the trap of the same people who picked Bart Simpson as most influential cartoon character over Mickey Mouse and Steven Spielberg as most influential filmmaker while Hitchcock, Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa only got sidebars. What came first, the mouse or the brat? And big Steve would be selling insurance if it weren't for the sidebar victims. One more thing, nobody ever tell me again that Spielberg went to USC just because he got some honorary degree. He dropped out of CSULB, and don't you forget it.

Kurt Loder, maybe I expected too much from you. To just give a brief history of the Beatles in your article on them being the most influential rock band goes nowhere near talking about their true influence on popular music. Which is why your saying their music "is eternal" makes me mad. You didn't talk about their music as much as you did their musical influences and how every girl in the world (I stole that rhyme from No Doubt, who TIME claimed to be THE modern ska band) creamed themselves when these scrappy British guys played. And even you bastardized the history of rock and roll by leaving out any mention of Carl Perkins. Think about it. Who's still playing today? Not the Beatles.

Bruce Handy, who has something to do with TIME online, though I admittedly don't know what, has some interesting things to say on this revisionist history. Going back to TIME's cartoon and film choices, the great genius Handy says in an online interview: "Stephen Spielberg, our choice for most influential director. I think a lot of people have made better movies than him over the last 25 years. But I can't think of anyone who's had greater influence on movie making around the world in that TIME frame, although one could argue George Lucas." There are 75 other years in the century Bruce... On Disney: "He's clearly an important figure, no doubt about it. If we had done the *21* most influential artist and entertainers he would have probably made the list." 21? Don't get me started on postmoderism. Or the shitty ethics involved with selling magazines (Spielberg is a much more recognizable name than Godard, but that still doesn't explain the idiocy behind Mouse vs. Simpson).

But we already know Mr. Bruce can't be too in tune with the real world. He continues to sound like an moron when asked why so many Americans were picked: "Hey--it's the American century. Clearly, the Europeans were the great innovators in terms of high modernism. But when it comes to popular culture this century has been all American. American popular culture is really the arts story of the century's second half." Yeah, however the century has two halves, and the first half probably influenced the second somewhere along the line. As far as the American crap, take a trip and learn that pop culture is not the be all end all of ANY society. When it does become that... Don't get me started. But what should I expect from a news magazine, facts? I'm just glad it was my brother's subscription.

Maybe the idea of superlatives is bad. Or to limit it to one century is hard. Of course, no one can really be the "most" influential anything. Even the innovators are influenced by someone else. The only way they can be innovative is to be familiar with their influences and/or have different influences than their contemporaries and then move on. Of course, the most influential person of the 20th century could only be influenced by someone from the 19th century or earlier. And then there are arguments of different genres, tastes, media, cultures (unless you're Bruce Handy), etc., etc. Thank Somebody up in the sky TIME decided to break the music categories down and not have Louis Armstrong and the Beatles duke it out while Monk and Marley laughed in the corner. So maybe I am wasting my breath. Maybe it's all semantics. Hey, you read it.

As for our tiff, Kurt, I don't hold it against you anymore than I do your working for MTV. Just keep laughing behind Puffy's back, if that's what you indeed do.