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Time’s Person of the Year: 'The Protester'

Posted on the 14 December 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

‘The Protester’ is Time’s Person of the Year. Lame or astute choice?

Time magazine Person of the Year cover

Time magazine has named its person of the year “The Protester.” The decision has been mostly greeted by the commentariat given that, from Zuccotti Park to Tahrir Square,  2011 has undoubtedly been the year of protest. But there are some who accuse Time of being a touch vague and non-commital in not picking a single person. 

Time‘s Person of the Year is the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and the news during the past year for good or for ill. Time said it is recognizing protesters because they are “redefining people power” around the world. The magazine cited dissent across the Middle East that has spread to Europe and the United States, and said these protesters are reshaping global politics, reported Associated Press.

The selection was announced Wednesday on NBC‘s The Today ShowTime‘s editor Rick Stengel said the protester was chosen, “For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century.”

Adolf Hitler was Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 1938.

Recently deceased Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had been the bookmaker’s favorite but failed to even make the runners-up list which was comprised of Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Operations Command; Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei; Republican congressman Paul Ryan, and Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William.

“Paul Ryan, author of the Republican’s unused debt plan, pips our dear Kate Middleton to 4th place in Time person of the year. Outrage”, tweeted Nico Hines, The Times’ Washington-based British-born journalist.

They’ve basically chosen no one. Dashiell Bennett of The Atlantic Wire said the choice was “vague and non-committal.” He reported that the “initial gut reaction on Twitter seems to be one of derision, as Time has gone with a faceless human mass instead of picking a single person (like Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi who Time mentions in the story and is widely acknowledged as the person who set off the ‘Arab Spring.’)” Bennett noted that Time has previous in naming a thing: “In 2006, Time chose “You” (with a mirrored cover) to much disappointment. They also once picked the personal computer as ‘Machine of the Year’ and Earth as ‘Planet of the Year’, proving that it should probably just be ‘Story of the Year’ if they aren’t going to acknowledge an actual person. By not picking any one individual, they’ve basically chosen no one.”

“The Protester is the only choice for Time. But if they keep picking non-people, doesn’t it just indicate conceit is defunct?” wondered The Independent’s Archie Bland on Twitter.

More on the Arab Spring

  • Arab Spring: Moderate Islamist An-Nahda party claim victory in Tunisia’s first democratic election
  • Gaddafi is dead – who’s next?
  • Asma al-Assad’s greatest hits
  • Violence erupts in Cairo

More protest »

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