January 05, 2012

Time afraid to name Person of Year

Where’s Time Magazine’s Cojones?

By Ruth HopkinsTime magazine selected “The Protestor” as its 2011 Person of the Year. The seminal publication’s decision as to who or what is worthy of the title of Person of the Year is based upon what person or thing they feel most influenced the news and global culture over the past year. Time said protestors involved in The Tea Party Movement, The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other demonstrations across Europe and the U.S. “redefined people power” and changing the shape of global politics.

I’m hardly dazzled by their selection. As a native woman I’m turned off by anything that appears half-hearted or cowardly. By naming “The Protestor” as its Person of the Year, Time attempted to appease the masses by using a nonspecific catch-all descriptor. In reality such a short-sighted, anesthetized, blanket acknowledgement only serves to water down the potency of the historic, meaningful deeds of those it meant to honor. Time pulled this stunt before: most recently in 2006, when it named “You” its Person of the Year, meaning the millions of people who anonymously contribute user-generated web content to Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace (remember Myspace?), Facebook, and other similar websites, cause you know, we, i.e. “You” use the internet and occasionally buy magazines and stuff. What’s the point of selecting a Person of the Year if millions of people, all with different motives and levels of sincerity, are lumped together into one faceless heap? It’s like giving everyone in class an ‘A’ regardless of whether or not they turned in their homework or studied for the final.
Hopkins names some alternatives to "The Protestor":Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, would have been a good choice for Time’s Person of the Year. He was the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the Arab Spring. Conditions in the Arab world have been ripe for revolution for awhile, but it was when Mr. Bouazizi set himself on fire after a policewoman confiscated his unlicensed vegetable cart, spat on him, and insulted his dead father, that his countrymen decided they could take no more. Mohammed had gone to the local authorities to object to his mistreatment, but they refused to see him. When he died in the hospital several weeks later, the Tunisian people took to the streets. As a result, then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down after 23 years in power.

Indian Country presented its own heroes in 2011. Debra White Plume, a Lakota grandmother, has become a prominent figure in the Environmental movement. She protests uranium mining on Tribal lands, and was arrested at the White House during protests against the Keystone XL pipeline this year. 102 years after his death, Geronimo made international headlines after it was revealed that his name was used as a code for Osama bin Laden in the Navy Seal operation to dispose of the terrorist. There was a public outcry throughout Indian country and the world, yet President Obama refused to issue an apology for the slight. If Time magazine intended to honor the spirit of defiance of protestors, they could have done no better than naming Geronimo their 2011 Person of the Year.
Comment:  For more on Indians as pop icons, see Indians in the Celebrity 100 and No Time for Indians.

Below:  An alternate cover for Time magazine's announcement. Since I protest more than almost anyone, I should've been Time's Person of the Year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much the second time I've been person of the year. My resume is looking better all the time.

Seriously, what, Time? Is this it? Just a new "you" every few years when the Democrats haven't just been elected president? (I say "Democrats" because who knew a Bush could be leave such a taint on the party?)