Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More TIME Person Of The Year Lameness

So Time Magazine is out today with their annual Person of the Year award, and once again Time has missed the mark.  While not as ridiculously bad as their 2006 selection of “You”, the computer user, this one is fairly bad in its own right.

Time has selected “The Protester” as the Person of the Year. Not a specific protester, or even a group like Occupy Wall Street, just protesters in general, so if you've formally bitched about anything this past year, congratulations, you are Time's Person of the Year.  But beyond the generic banality of giving the award to a vague group of people defined by partaking in a poorly-defined action, Time makes their selection seem even more ridiculous with their press release about the POTY award.

 “A year after a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself ablaze, dissent has spread across the Middle East, to Europe and the U.S., reshaping global politics and redefining people power,” the magazine explains.  The problem is that Tunisian fruit vendor had a name: Mohamed Bouazizi.  He passed away in early January after setting himself on fire after Tunisian authorities trashed his meager fruit stand because he couldn't afford a vendor's license.  Before setting himself alight, Bouazizi complained that even after getting a college education, there were no jobs for young men like himself in Tunisia, and now the government wouldn't even let him sell fruit at the local bazaar.  Bouazizi's act sparked protests that would eventually topple the government of Tunisia, an act that would go on to inspire Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, Syrians and others to rise up against their oppressive governments.  If anyone met the criteria of being the individual who “most influenced the culture and the news during the past year, for good or for ill,” it was Bouazizi.
Yet somehow it wasn't enough for Time magazine to honor him as the POTY.  Perhaps Time feared that giving the award to a man little-known to the American population, but with a Muslim-sounding name would spark a possible boycott from a group of ignorant yahoos in Florida, or perhaps no one at the great journalistic institution of Time Magazine bothered to learn the name of the “Tunisian fruit vendor”.  Whatever the reason, by passing up honoring Mohamed Bouazizi in favor of the generic “Protester”, Time once again showed the irrelevance of the Person of the Year award, and of their magazine itself.
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