Comment: Pink List was badly chosen
Despite his gay tendencies, Ben Leung is the Jewish Chronicle’s most ardent British-born Chinese reader.
Here he compares list of influential community figures as chosen by the Jews and the gays. Why is ours full of entertainers?
What is it with spring that newspapers feel the urge to publish all sorts of power-lists or Top-100 most influential lists?
The Guardian was first off the blocks in early April, with its version – a Top-30 ethnic minority in the media industry list.
This was then followed by the venerable Jewish Chronicle, which devoted most of last month counting down the Top-100 most influential people in the Jewish community in Britain.
Last week, piggy-backing on the Lord Browne scandal, it was the Independent on Sunday’s turn to publish its annual Pink List.
The Guardian’s version smacked of desperation as it couldn’t even drum up a hundred names, with the top-30 rounded off by a woman who is big across the pond, but has virtually none or very little impact here in the UK, Oprah Winfrey.
The pink version isn’t much better.
This year’s Pink List is fluffy and lightweight. Meanwhile, the JC’s list oozes gravitas, and the number of heavyweight figures gives its readers a genuine community feel to the results.
In their top ten, there are three rabbis, three businessmen, a right-wing political commentator, a philanthropist and a couple of figures who pay a prominent role in promoting and preserving the Jewish community.
Whereas the JC concentrated on people who have actually made an impact on the Jewish community – good and bad – the IoS Pink List is essentially a list of who’s a famous LGBT – probably in order of their celebrity, and not many actually having had an impact on the LGBT community at all.
Also, there are not that many lesbians, about one bisexual and no transsexuals.
So perhaps it should be called the famous gay men off the telly list, with some not-quite-so-famous lesbians thrown in.
Its Top Ten is consisted a few actors, a musician, a comedian, a businessman, two political figures and a fashion designer.
Sounds lightweight to you?
Now, I don’t dispute the fact that Russell T Davies is top of the list.
I’m no Doctor Who fan, but I can appreciate how much influence he continues to have in not just gay, but also popular culture.
Similarly, Sir Ian McKellan commands a place in the top ten, not just for his work in films and on the stage, but also the work he does for gay causes, as does Sir Elton John though I can’t recall the last time he released a decent song.
However, Matt Lucas and John Galliano being so prominent in the Pink List, with the omnipresent pair of John Barrowman and Graham Norton just outside the top echelon, and ahead of numerous business executives and political figures, gave a lop-sided feel to the 2007 list.
Take Matt Lucas, who is – rather conveniently – Jewish and gay.
Ranked eight (up one place from last year), he was credited for his TV work and for getting hitched last year.
Yet, he was nowhere to be found in the JC’s top-100 list. So, does that mean he has no impact on the Jewish community?
I’m not Jewish, but I can tell you that he does.
Nothing slips by the JC if you’re Jewish and famous; indeed, they specialise in lauding one of their own who’ve made it – be that on television or in synchronised swimming.
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(I’m not making this up – flick to the JC sports pages a few weeks back and you’ll see what I mean).
But because the JC had a well-balanced panel to decide on the list which had been drawn-up by its readers across the Jewish community, its power-list had a genuine community feel to it: people of prominence who do a lot for their faith by helping its community.
The Pink List, by contrast, has Alan Carr, H from Steps, Boy George, Julian Clary and Rupert Everett on it. I’m not entirely sure what any of them have done in recent times to deserve a place other than being gay.
That isn’t a huge surprise given that most of the Pink List panel are media personalities and writers which would naturally tilt the balance towards popular culture.
But wouldn’t it have been a better idea (and indeed, fairer?) to include a few more personalities from other sectors of the gay community rather than relying writers and journalists to make up over half of the panel?
Well, at least they got Rabbi Lionel Blue right. Number 15 on the Pink List and sandwiched between David Starkey and Sir Cameron Mackintosh; the JC has Rabbi Blue at number 33.