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While Dolly Parton’s fans argued with Time’s decision to make anyone but her their Person of the Year, Parton seems glad enough to be one of People’s 2021 People of the Year. Regarding the internet’s worship of her, the country superstar said, “I am not all that.”

Needless to say, not everyone will agree with that statement. But how do her qualifications compare to Musk’s for Person of the Year?

(L) Dolly Parton dressed in white and holding a white guitar; (R) Elon Musk dressed in a jacket, posing and looking to the side
(L) Dolly Parton | Rick Diamond/Getty Images; (R) Elon Musk | Hannibal Hanschke-Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk is Time magazine’s 2021 ‘Person of the Year’: a ‘clown, genius, edgelord, visionary, industrialist, showman, cad’

The decision that threw the internet into a tantrum was based on some interesting qualifications. Time called their 2021 Person of the Year, Musk, a “clown, genius, edgelord, visionary, industrialist, showman, cad” as well as a “man-god who invents electric cars and moves to Mars.”

As far as the public knows, Musk has yet to move to another planet. But he is part of what became known as the billionaire space race with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, who he surpassed as world’s wealthiest person in January of 2021.

The Time article notes, “To Musk, his vast fortune is a mere side effect of his ability not just to see but to do things others cannot, in arenas where the stakes are existential.”

To the surprise of many, he hosted Saturday Night Live, which maybe lends to the “clown” descriptor from Time — in addition to Musk live-tweeting his bowel movements, apparently.

Notably, a New York Times writer accused Musk of “troll philanthropy,” also in December of 2021. The article suggests the CEO seems reluctant to some observers to give back parts of his $245 billion fortune — per Celebrity Net Worth — and insists the successful missions of his companies are in themselves a type of philanthropy.

Dolly Parton is a 2021 ‘Person of the Year’ for People: glad she’s not ‘the worst person in the world’

While Parton wasn’t Time’s Person of the Year, she was one of People magazine’s People of the Year for 2021. That might be consolation for some fans.

People highlighted her philanthropy as part of their feature on her. “I’m kind of addicted to the feeling of giving,” Parton said. “Knowing that I’m doing something good for someone else.”

The article notes that she donated $1 million for vaccine research in 2020, then raised $700,000 for Tennessee flood victims in 2021. Furthermore, her Imagination Library project has donated nearly 170 million books to children under the age of five since 1995.

Unlike Musk, Parton is not a billionaire — much less a two-hundred-billionaire. But she hesitates to accept recognition for her philanthropy, despite the good feelings she said it brings her. 

“I have to honestly tell you, I was a little bit skeptical of being put on the cover as one of the People of the Year,” she shared and added, “That’s a lot of pressure.”

“It’s like, I am not all that,” she said. “I’m glad that I stand for enough stuff to where I’m not the worst person in the world.”


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Dolly Parton doesn’t want to be worshipped

When it comes to being a singing, acting, giving superstar, Parton relies on a philosophy of knowing what she doesn’t know. She told People she didn’t know how to run a theme park, but she had the idea of Dollywood and knew she could find people.

“In some cases, I’m not educated enough to do it. In some cases, I’m not smart enough to do it, but I’m smart enough to know what I want and what I don’t want,” she explained. “I’m smart enough to know what I can and can’t do, and so that’s how you have to look at it.”

In the end, she seems to find success in much of what she does. But she said she doesn’t want to be “worshipped” because her Bible forbids “idol worship.”

She concluded, “But if I can set an example, then that’s great.”

Fans can always hope Time will reconsider Parton’s example next year.