5. Paddy Chayefsky
Chayefsky wrote the screenplay for the movie Network, and that is enough to get him on this list. It is the greatest screenplay ever written. It crackles with wit. With each passing year and every new reality TV show it proves to have been more and more prescient. Any mind that could create such amazing work of art deserves our respect.
4. George Carlin
Carlin is indisputably one of the top 5 comedians of all time. He’s probably my favorite. He’s a fantastic wordsmith. As you’re listening to his performance you laugh, but it’s when you go back and think about them that you see how intricately every part of every sentence is constructed. He has a poet’s concern for the proper word. He also has the cultural insight that make any sociology professor jealous. All of this is driven by the desire to entertain while also getting to the truth. He is a master, and we should thank NYC everyday for giving him to us.
3. James Baldwin
Baldwin sits at the top of the list of authors I really would like to read more of. I’ve read a handful of his essays, and they’re all astounding. It would not be hard to argue that he is one of the most important writers of his time. Knowing all the barriers he had to cross even to be noticed (being not only a black man, but also as a gay man) gives you all the more appreciation for his strength and determination. There is still quite a bit we have to learn for Mr. Baldwin, and I for one want to be near the front of the class.
2. Stanley Kubrick
Few other filmmakers have had as distinct a voice as Kubrick. He made films that covered all sorts of genres– heist, war, sandle-and-sward epics, satirical comedies, science-fiction, horror, dystopian futuristic, costume dramas, and erotic dream films. Yet each film was unmistakably his, propelled by his vision. His films looked and sounded like no other films. Each one took you to a place deep inside you, a place you weren’t always comfortable visiting.
Dorthy Day is another author whose work I really want to dig into. She’s is an author with a deep sense of love and compassion for the world, and we need more writers like that. But she did more than just write. She was actively involved in social work, and it’s this aspect of her life that most impresses me. I am not a social worker by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d like to be. Hearing stories about people like Day inspire me to get out of my house and go do something. Like Baldwin, she faced incredible opposition. She was arrested several times for civil disobedience, even once when she was 75 years old! What a profound testimony to the love and care the gospel can compel to spread in the world.