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Time's collective copout on 'Person of the Year'

December 15, 2011 | 12:11 pm

Concede that it's an artificial exercise: Time magazine's "Person (formerly Man) of the Year" makes for entertaining end-of-the-year reading, and it's fodder for water-cooler conversations.  But this year Time has copped out by choosing a collective honoree -- the Protester.

In this paragraph the magazine attempts to weave together disparate developments:

In Sidi Bouzid and Tunis, in Alexandria and Cairo; in Arab cities and towns across the 6,000 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean; in Madrid and Athens and London and Tel Aviv; in Mexico and India and Chile, where citizens mobilized against crime and corruption; in New York and Moscow and dozens of other U.S. and Russian cities, the loathing and anger at governments and their cronies became uncontainable and fed on itself.

Granted, the Arab Spring involved interconnected revolts. But connecting the other protests is unconvincing. There is not one paradigmatic Protester.

Even in marketing terms, Time's decision seems odd.  The guessing game about who will be POY must be good for some increased interest in the issue that anoints the winner. But when it's the Protester -- or the Banker or the Politician -- who really cares?


Time magazine marks a year of turmoil with 'The Protester'

Occupy L.A.: Protester is the face of Time's 'Person of the Year'

Shepard Fairey designs 'Person of the Year' for Time magazine

--Michael McGough

Photo: Shepard Fairey's cover design. Credit: Time.

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