7 New Wonders go from stupendous to stupid

This whole “7 New Wonders of the World” project, a joint venture between Good Morning America and USA Today, seemed extremely promising at first. They had cutie Kate Snow moderating a panel of experts (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Pico Iyer, Bruce Feiler), a ridonculous amount of pre-project hype (billboards, promos, and a sad, sad attempt at viral YouTube video), and most important, a genuinely good idea (I’m thinking of copying the whole 7 Wonders package for one of the magazines I edit). Then they actually started revealing the wonders last week, one day at a time.

1. Potala Palace (Lhasa, Tibet): OK, haven’t ever heard of this place and it’s not terribly pretty, but a giant architectural marvel at the top of the world — I’m feeling you.

2. Old City of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Israel): Uh, isn’t it kind of cheating to pick a whole city? Why not Paris or New York? But that aside, yes, Jerusalem still passes the smell test — i.e. it’s a wonderous place I’d like to visit.

3. Polar Ice Caps (Iceland): Oh, come on! We’re opening this up to natural wonders? I’m starting to imagine the Wonders experts debating: “Why not the Earth’s core? No, what about the moon? We could do those new moon — I love RX230!”

4. Hawaiian National Marine Monument (Hawaii, USA): Ugh. Clearly the wheels have fallen off this project. This barrier reef is nothing compared to the one that’s actually “Great” in Australia, or the one off Belize. This is yet another natural wonder (which honestly should be a totally different list), and not even a very good one at that.

5. The Internet (Everywhere!): Retarded. Simply retarded.

OK, the Internet may have changed all our lives, but it’s not a capitalized Wonder of the World. Nor is the economy or television or Apple computer or the blogosphere or marijuana or monkey torture. Let’s make this clear: Wonder of the World means massive man-made structure that people from all over the world would be interested in seeing! It’s a simple conceit. These guys get it.

The ancient ones, now called the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (which are all but gone, except for the Pyramid of Giza), were essentially a list of tourist destinations put together in the 2nd Century BC by a famous writer. Perhaps that’s what GMA and USA Today should have done here: pick one really good writer (that lady who penned “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” maybe) and asked them to come up with one solid list. Not this silly, stupid list that seems like it was put together by a committee of kindergarteners.

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