YOU Aren’t the Person of the Year

Time's 2006 Person of the Year“We chose to put a mirror on the cover because it literally reflects the idea that you, not we, are transforming the information age.” – Time managing editor Richard Stengel

The LAMEST excuse for a person of the year. Of all the people to choose as Person of the Year, it had to be YOU. (Pun not intended.)

Time’s excuse is because YOU are the reason for the boom of the Information Age. Time cites the rise of bloggers, YouTube-ites, MySpacers, and Wikipedians as a few of the examples that represent why YOU are Person of the Year. (Yes, I will capitalize “you” for the most part throughout this post. It’s annoying, isn’t it? I think it’s annoying too but it makes the point quite well.)

YOU, in Time’s perspective, represent those who are Internet-savvy: from the 8-year-old who pretends to be 13 on MySpace to the 44-year-old predator/creepy guy on MySpace. But if you’re a senior, more than likely, you’re not a valid POTY. I’m sorry, Suri Cruise, as cute as you are, you’re too young to be a POTY because, well, you didn’t really matter like YOU did. (Do you see how ridiculous this is getting?) Time tries to convince YOU why YOU are Person of the Year.

Time fails miserably.

The main drive behind Time’s article is the quick rise of the YouTube sensation. The founders, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim (not pictured) began YouTube as a start-up 21 months ago and have recently sold
it to the behemoth Google for $1.65 billion. Is YouTube really worth that much? I digress.

Regardless of YouTube’s worth, I agree that it’s taken on an unprecedented life of its own with amazing popularity. YouTube is quickly outpacing MySpace in its own right. Whereas MySpace has become the main hub for unsigned artists to deliver music to hungry fans, YouTube feeds the fetish of voyeurs and fame-seekers alike.

I wish Time had simply declared Chen, Hurley, and Karim as “People of the Year” and went into a massive tirade about how successful they’ve been and devote massive coverage to their upbringing, history, business savvy, yadda yada yada. Time devotes 7 pages to YouTube and its founders, which includes an entire photo spread of Chen and Hurley. Don’t hold me to it but the article titled, “The YouTube Gurus” is the largest single-topic article in the
Dec. 25, 2006-Jan. 1, 2007 issue. (The largest article overall is called “Power To the People,” where extraordinary people – like YOU – are highlighted in their accomplishments to how they’ve contributed to the boom of the Information Age.)

Want to know who YOU are?

I just wish that Time would have discarded Person of the Year and just introduced “Thing of the Year.” The whole YOU emphasis is a really lame segue to say, “Media is the IT thing of 2006.” But they can’t change a near-century tradition so they probably sat around at the annual POTY boardroom meeting saying the following:

Exec 1: “Hmmm… how do we find someone who encompasses all of the multimedia on the Internet today?”

Exec 2: “I know! It’s us! It’s all of us! “We” are the multimedia of the Internet!”

Exec 3: “That’s a great idea! But we can’t use “we.” No one would go for that.”

Lame Employee: “Well… it could be… you…”

Execs 1, 2, and 3: “By Jove, I think he’s got it!”

I remember one of the editors saying a few weeks ago (maybe even months) that he wished an actual person was Person of the Year. Considering that Stengel said Time had ordered 6,965,000 pieces of Mylar for the front cover, I’d say this editor was expressing major disappointment without revealing details.

To appease people who are miffed because YOU aren’t good enough, Time also included “People Who Mattered” in their largest POTY issue ever. Aw, isn’t that special?

Stengel said if Time had to choose a person, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would probably have won the honor. However, Stengel doesn’t have the balls to rub anyone the wrong way, “It just felt to me a little off selecting him.” (And we can’t have lower circulation! Time Inc. is already in the midst of needing to fire firing people!)

Had I been managing editor, I would have selected Ahmadinejad as Person of the Year; he made headlines nearly every day for the past year. Besides, while they didn’t outright select him, they published a nice, lengthy interview featuring him.

Feasible runners up:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim
  • Hugo Chavez
  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
  • Madonna
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • George W. Bush
  • Kim Jong Il
  • Al Gore
  • Katie Couric
  • Sacha Baron Cohen

… YOU get the picture.

Instead, many of the above are selected as “People Who Mattered.” Al Gore was a reasonable choice for second place with his initially underrated documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Chavez and Jong Il could also go head-to-head for third place if the first two didn’t work out. The celeb pairs wouldn’t be a far-off choice either considering the world’s fascination with celebrities.

Time, YOU blundered big time. A Person of the Year is selected as a symbol of the entire year. Iran’s president would have been good; YouTube’s founders would have been excellent; celeb pairs “Brangelina” or “TomKat” would have encompassed the world’s celeb voyeurism of 2006.

But nope, you copped-out and chose YOU. And you will look back on this 10 years from now and realize that YOU symbolized nothing but a cowardly editor running out of ideas.

2007’s Person of the Year prediction? The Illegal Immigrant. (Whoa – hey there’s a vague reference that actually would have made sense for this year.)

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