There are two kinds of celebrities in this world; those who are famous for their work, and those who make a difference. ‘People Magazine Special: Top 100 Celebrities Who Define Our Time is about those five-score celebrities who have made a difference with their work, and continue to do so. They can be movie stars, sportspersons, musicians, or even politicians without whom this world wouldn’t be the same.
Before we move ahead, let’s discuss the criterion which was applied to select these hundred people that matter the most to the American public, since it’s published under an American magazine. Each celebrity featured in this book has done something that was either not done before or achieved something remarkable that hasn’t been emulated. It might be something said by a film star, a feat achieved by a sports hero, or a legacy left by someone who wasn’t expected to be famous for some reason.
Therefore, if you don’t know that the meaning of The Matrix star Keanu Reeves’ first name is ‘Cool breeze over the mountains’, that actress Brooke Shields faced the camera for the first time when she was 11 (months, not years), or that the only time Princess Diana was upstaged by Prince Charles was during the announcement of their engagement, then you need to read this coffee-table book and enjoy it thoroughly.
Expertly divided into six sections, this book covers nearly everyone who should be in such a collection. The former US President Ronald Regan is there for his impressive work as an administrator and so is Arnold Schwarzenegger for emulating him at the state level; Julia Roberts and her smile make it to this book as does the devilish grin of Jack Nicholson, and a book about influential celebrities wouldn’t be complete without Robin Williams or Steve Martin who are here because of ‘defining’ something in a better manner than their contemporaries.
The first chapter in this book is titled ‘Power Houses’ which houses those celebrities who are more than A-listers and that’s the only place in the world where you can find Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and Angelina Jolie together. The ‘Movies’ section features film stars such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Bill Murray who have given their best to Hollywood and without whom the American pop culture wouldn’t be pop at all.
Then there is the ‘Television’ chapter which talks about those actors or actresses who have done exceptional work on the smaller screen while ‘Music’ features those celebrities who have used songs to make their presence felt. While Courtney Cox, Farrah Fawcett, and David Letterman find their way into the Television part, the next one couldn’t have been complete without Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand to name a few.
After these four major categories, there are two more that cater to the ‘Next Generation’ and the ‘Icons’; while the former takes care of the young and forthcoming celebrities, the latter is home to those who might not be part of showbiz necessarily but are important enough in their own rights. You may or may not agree with the selection but in an ever-changing world, fresh induction of celebrities is not just the need of the hour but also what the circle of life teaches.
As for the pictures, the selection is first-rate and in some cases like Elizabeth Taylor, Brooke Shields, and Paul Newman, breathtaking. The Clint Eastwood image tells the readers that when Dirty Harry wasn’t busting criminals, he was an extremely good-looking chap, that Elton John used to be young once, or that there was a reason why Sarah Jessica Parker had the million-dollar feel while being part of Sex and the City.
Unlike other books in the market that rely on attractive photographs, this edition’s specialty is the informative-yet-hilarious narrative that follows the awe-inspiring photographs. Each and every artiste gets a page of his or her own where their accomplishments are explained briefly. On some pages where the celebrity doesn’t need anything except their name, a hilarious anecdote would be presented that you can share with your friends later.
In a book where Meryl Streep is introduced as ‘most actors would be thrilled to have 16 films on their resume; Streep has 16 Academy Awards nominations’ or which features Katharine Hepburn’s quote ‘if you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun’, the readers will never be at loss. They would find interesting things about the favourite celebrities of their generation and find something that was unknown to them or their friends. I was surprised to know that comedian Richard Pryor was paid a million dollars more than Christopher Reeve in Superman III, or that Jennifer Lopez remains the only human to have had the No. 1 album and the No. 1 film in the same week.
On the whole, this is one book that you should have in your collection for reference as well as to curb your enthusiasm for nostalgia. If you had no idea that Brad Pitt felt ‘like a girl walking past construction workers’, Paul Newman thought that he looked ‘like Red Riding Hood’, or that Sandra Bullock dumped her husband after he had cheated on her, then you have a lot of catching up to do. Let this treasure trove of information guide you towards an interesting world where both the pictures and the text have a lot to say. -Ends