The New York Times has released their annual Faces Quiz, in which readers can procrastinate on other year-end work they have to do by spending five minutes trying to remember the name of the woman who runs the CDC. (It’s Rochelle Walensky, by the way.)
The best part of this quiz is that once you finish, they tell you how you rank in comparison to your fellow Times readers. Not to brag, but at 40 out of 52 I scored better than 99 percent of those middle-aged dummies. My genius colleague Allie Jones landed an astounding 48 out of 52, which I think automatically submits her into the FBI training program.
But in addition to telling you how good you are at recognizing the “notable people” of 2021 (many of whom are notable because they have died), the Times also tells you how recognizable each person on the list is. Topping the recognizable charts this year is Vice President Kamala Harris, who 94 percent of readers could recognize. Right below her is President Joe Biden, with 93 percent. What is happening in that one percent is beyond me, but maybe it’s the key to figuring out what to do in 2024. Rounding out the top five are Twitter troll Elon Musk, pandemic czar Anthony Fauci, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell (RIP).
I May Destroy You’s Michaela Coel, author Colson Whitehead, Pose’s Mj Rodriguez, and Squid Game’s HoYeun Jung are at the bottom of the list, and playwright Jeremy O. Harris won last place – only two percent of participants could correctly identify him. Color me shocked that the people who have that “In this house we believe..” posters in their yards and windows aren’t entirely tuned in to non-white cultural figures. Although I will forgive them for not being able to clock Harris; the only playwright most people would recognize on the street is Lin-Manuel Miranda (and he’s not even a playwright – more of a lyricist).
As for myself, I would like to see more data. Is there someone out there who recognizes both Doja Cat and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell? Whose mind can hold both Charli d’Amelio’s and Liz Cheney’s faces in their head without performance enhancing drugs? That person might be Allie. Congratulations to her.