In a year of memorable magazine covers, this week's issue of Time certainly ranks highly in my mind. Businessweek has been producing some of the very best covers — incidentally including one of an aging Barack Obama — prompting me to go as far as to purchase a digital subscription of the magazine. (I know, right?) I suppose there's a lot to be said for a well put together publication and 2012 has been a great demonstration of that fact.
Beyond the article in Time about the President, Ken Layne of The Awl has, perhaps, the best response (and URL slug) to the selection:
Aren't there any other black presidents who win historic elections against old white rich guys? No? Well then, Barack Obama is the Person of the Year, according to TIME, which is not even trying anymore now that Newsweek is gone. Obama was chosen because, let's see, "We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Barack Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America. In 2012, he found and forged a new majority, turned weakness into opportunity and sought, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union."
If taking our guns away and taxing the Koch Brothers at a 99% federal rate and "solving the ocean" makes for a more perfect union, we … well, we're pretty much good with all that! But "Superstorm Sandy" was obviously the Person of the Year.
Time Magazine has announced its person of the year: the protestor.
Protesters are ready to rumble in Egypt and Tunisia if democracy and freedom seem too compromised. Emboldened protesters may yet sweep away regimes in places like Jordan and Yemen. In Libya, a bloody revolution, assisted by NATO, brought down the 42-year-old regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The protorevolution is still under way in Syria, where thousands of protesters have been killed.
And in Russia, the recipe for surprising protest circa 2011 — pseudodemocratic regime overreach, high Internet use, robust new media and suddenly galvanized middle-class youth — is being baked and served. On Dec. 5, after Putin's party, United Russia, did badly in parliamentary elections despite apparent ballot-box stuffing, more than 5,000 Muscovites gathered to chant, "Russia without Putin!" and called for his arrest. It was the largest Russian antiregime protest of the 21st century — and just as in Tunis and Madrid and New York City, nobody saw it coming.
While I, of course, agree that the protests this year were of enormous significance, I cannot help but feel that this award is somewhat contrived.
The inclusion of the Occupy movements across the United States in the same article as the bloody overthrow of Gaddafi? Seems a bit much.
That is not to say I wish to undermine the importance of events in Egypt, Libya, and so on. My point is simply that Time's award seems an attention-grabbing measure, more than it is a genuine endorsement of the importance and humanitarian significance of the protests and revolutions that have occurred (and continue today) across the world.