And so I've always been hesitant to rank on people -- not to criticize them for their behavior or performance, mind you, but rather to hate them in the way that some people seem to hate the professionally famous -- when they're better at their chosen social role than I am.
For example, let's look at (well, not literally, heaven forfend) Rob Liefeld. Sure, he's an egomaniacal blowhard. Sure, he couldn't write his way out of a pencil drawing of a paper bag. Sure, he's poison on the comics industry. But he can draw better than I can. Which is CERTAINLY not to say that he's a good artist. He isn't. He's a terrible artist. But, he's better than I am, because I can't draw at all.
Or, to turn to another example, Keanu Reeves. He's not a good actor; he's a terrible actor. He's not smart, although he seems fairly gregarious. He's not innovative or talented. But we don't pay him to be talented or smart or a good actor; we pay him to be good-looking. And he's better-looking than I am. He's better-looking than I would be if I was good-looking.
Finally, there's Celine Dion. Now, I really hate Celine Dion's singing. I hate her music, I hate her voice, I hate her material, I hate her life, I hate her very existence. I am sad that she's even alive. But, I must admit at gunpoint, she can actually carry a tune. She does the job she's paid for. She's a better singer (which is not to say, a singer that I would actually want to listen to, but a more technically proficient one) than I am. She is better than me at the thing she is required to be better than me at. I can, and do, say a lot of awful things about Celine Dion; but I cannot say that she isn't better at singing Celine Dion songs than I am.
All this said, I'm sort of obsessed with celebrities who AREN'T better than me at ANYTHING. Now, as my readers can testify, I hate myself. I think I'm ugly, I think I'm evil, I think I'm hateful, I think I'm a failure, I think that I'm a hack writer, I think I'm not very smart, and I think by almost any measurable standard, I am not a particularly worthwhile human being. Which is why I'm fascinated by people who I can look at and say "I'm better than them...at EVERYTHING", and who nonetheless are insanely rewarded by society. Let's look at a few people who have risen to relatively great heights with no discernable talents whatsoever. I'm not talking about, say, an Emannuel Lewis, who despite the lack of any discernable talents is at least better at being three feet tall than I am. Or a Jaime Navarro, who despite being the worst major league pitcher ever is a better major league pitcher than I am. Or a Masta Killa, who despite being no good at anything, could probably at least kick my ass. I'm talking about the dregs. I'm talking about the people who have no reason not to be working the counter at White Castle. Let's go to the archives.
Pauly Shore is my baseline. He is the standard against which all others are measured. Not good-looking, not talented, not funny (not even in a "let's laugh at how pathetic this guy is" way, a la Anna Nicole Smith), there is nothing -- you name the criteria -- at which Pauly Shore could outdo me. Or you. Or any randomly selected person in the entire United States.
Now, before you accuse me of predictable, lame GOP-bashing, allow me to say that I am not personally of the belief that all Republicans are stupid. I don't think George W. Bush is stupid. I don't even think Ronald Reagan was stupid so much as I think he was willfully ignorant. And while I despise people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove, I am perfectly willing to admit that there are any number of things at which they are very good. Dan Quayle, on the other hand, had nothing. NOTHING. He was stupid. He was clumsy and inept. He was a terrible speaker. He was a bad politician. Even the Republicans didn't like him. He coasted on his reputation as being handsome, but quite obviously, he looks like Pat Sajak. The only thing he could do well -- by his own admission -- was golf, and those who have played with him say he's not that great. And he was VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Tom Clancy, in addition to being a shitty novelist who writes overlong, unreadable books in a hack techno-nerd style, is a boor, has a froglike appearance, has turned his name into a brand (thus triggering an unfortunate trend in the literary world), has plastered his name over a bunch of lousy video games, and worst of all, has become some sort of sought-after counter-terrorism 'expert' based on nothing more than having written a bunch of crappy novels. The only difference between his expertise and mine is that his gets him on CNN.
Now, I realize this will be a controversial selection. And it was hard to make this choice, because even though she's a bad actress, she's in the Lord of the Rings movies, which I like. I can hear the cries already: "But she's hot! You're not hot! Are you hot? You are not!" To which I respond: okay. Granted. She has a better body than I do. She has a better body than I would if I were a woman. BUT LOOK AT HER FACE, PEOPLE. She clearly has Downs' Syndrome. She has a gigantic head -- twice the size of the hydrocephalic Julia Stiles. Her mouth is as wide as the Holland tunnel. She's sloe-eyed. Her ears were obviously taken off of another person and graften onto her head. It's easy to see that she's Steven Tyler's daughter, and no one in their right mind thinks that he's good-looking. (Note that many of these people, from Shore, Quayle and Tyler to other people who could appear on this list like Melissa Rivers, are famous only by virtue of having famous or wealthy parents.) I will go to my grave preaching this heresy: LIV TYLER IS NOT AN ATTRACTIVE WOMAN.
Bob Costas. The Pompositron. Arrogant, smirky, self-important, short, and with a bad toupee. A jock-sniffer par excellence, a capering nostalgia chimp, and a man who is incredibly enamored of himself considering that he has nothing going for him. A man who has developed a reputation as being an intellectual simply by virtue of saying it over and over again. Amazingly, he has fooled people into thinking he's smart and insightful, despite having nothing interesting to say; he's even managed to get some directionless tools to get on board for his quixotic quest to become the Commissioner of Baseball, when in fact he's the only person I can think of who would do a worse job than Bud Selig. A testament to the power of self-publicizing, Costas has managed to win a sterling reputation, when in fact he's nothing more than Howard Cosell without the smarts.