I recently came across a post written by America Ferrera for Time praising Selena Gomez as one of the most influential people of the world . Selena has made it to the prestigious The Time 100 Most Influential People of 2020 . She has used her huge platform -Instagram- for good causes such as supporting the BLM movement and other civil rights including the rights of the U.S “dreamers”. It kept me thinking, is she really one of the most influential people of the world or one of the most influential young women in the USA?
According to Ferrera: “She has always been a great musician, but she’s also always been more than her music. In the past year, in addition to releasing her third album, rare, Selena got her own cooking show on HBO Max, Selena + Chef, and will star in and executive-produce the Hulu comedy series Only Murders in the Building. She launched her own beauty line, with which she’s pledged to raise $100 million over 10 years for mental-health services in underserved communities”. This is wonderful for Selena’s career and a credit to her talent and hard work but hardly influential or impactful for the rest of the world. Many are currently unemployed or suffering badly the consequences of a pandemic so cannot afford the monthly HBO fee to watch the cooking show and many girls in many parts of the world, don’t even have access to the Internet to follow Selena and her work.
Selena is not an influential person in the world at all, she is an influential celebrity in the USA. I like Selena, I enjoy some of her music and have seen some of her films and I completely agree with America that she uses her platforms positively and for the good of the society she lives it. But on her Instagram, there is also a lot of posts dedicated to products that are beyond the means of many of those who follow her , let alone those she advocates for.
“She’s used her enormous social-media platform to encourage voting and to support Black Lives Matter. And, perhaps most important in a time when immigrants fear for their safety and ICE raids pepper the news, Selena has been an outspoken advocate for immigrant rights in America”.
Exactly America Ferrera, in “America” and by that we assume you are referring to the United States of America , a country and not a continent. And here, another example of cultural supremacy which is even more poignant coming form someone with Latin-American roots like Ferrera. As the wonderful Uruguayan intellectual Eduardo Galeano said in his well known book “The Open veins of Latin-America” : “Along the way we have even lost the right to call ourselves Americans, although the Haitians and the Cubans appeared in history as new people a century before the Mayflower pilgrims settled on the Plymouth coast.
Eduardo Galeano would definitely had my vote as one of the most influential people and thinkers of the world but as an Spanish speaking writer, he never made the list or even to the pages of the Times.
But this post is not about Selena or about any of the well known faces considered to be the most influential people of the world. It is about how this list is an example of the cultural supremacy going on in the world. It focuses in the USA society changers and English speaking celebrities and activists. As much as I like Selena and America Ferrera, Selena doesn’t influence people in the world.In fact, if I were to ask girls in a refugee camp in Aleppo or in Palestine, they wouldn’t even know who Selena is.
There are influential people the world over. Hard working and changing society locally, which is how changes usually start. There is the director of a local community centre in London doing excellent work for his community. There is a group of tween girls in the Bolivian Altiplano advocating children’s rights, NGO workers supporting migrants rights currently arriving by the hundreds daily to the Canary Islands . Then , there is the unknown doctors, nurses, cleaners and everyday fighters who make our lives better everywhere in the world . Incredible people who would never make the list even if they are influential and important. It seems that unless you have some influence in the English speaking world and have celebrity connections and backing, you would never be influential or make the list.
So as much as I enjoy reading Time magazine and love the work of the people nominated to the TIME 1OO, it is time to be a bit more humble and honest and leave the cultural supremacy to the supremacists . No, they are not the most influential people of the world at all. The world is a big place with a variety of cultures, peoples and languages .
I’m finishing this post with a quote by Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel.
“Today`s culture is unfortunately inseparable from economic and military power. A ruling nation can impose its culture and give a worldwide fame to a second-rate writer like (Ernest Hemingway). (John Steinbeck) is important due to American guns. Had (John Dos Passos) and (William Faulkner) been born in Paraguay or in Turkey, who`d read them?”