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Osama Time's Person of the Year?
November 29, 2001 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Osama Time's Person of the Year? He's on the short list, apparently. "It would hurt the reputation of Time magazine in the eyes of subscribers if they started making cowardly decisions. And I don't think that they will." Besides, it's not the first time they've made a choice that'd be unpopular with readers. (via medianews)
posted by ice_cream_motor (34 comments total)

 
Just because he's "Person of the Year" doesn't mean that Time think's he's good... just the most newsworthy.
posted by mkn at 9:56 AM on November 29, 2001


It's not a popularity contest or a "sexiest man alive" poll. The Time person of the year isn't picked on their merit as a person, they are picking the biggest newsmaker and person responsible for newsmaking change in a year whether that is good or bad. Osama wins by a mile this year, there are no runner ups. If Time chooses Gulianni or Bush, or someone else they are giving in to their weaker minded readers.

Honestly, if you had to pick the most change-inducing newsworthy person of the past century, you'd have no choice but to pick Hitler, right? He brought about horrible, horrible changes, but it colored the entire century. Just reading his name I get a reaction, and it's been 70 years since he started his rampage.
posted by mathowie at 9:57 AM on November 29, 2001


Actually, mathowie, I'd pick Stalin, but that's just me.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:01 AM on November 29, 2001


And, as ice_cream's links show, Time has picked Hitler, and Stalin, as Man of the Year.

Time itself states that they try to pick someone "who, for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year" (emphasis mine)
posted by jazon at 10:01 AM on November 29, 2001


Oh, I agree wholeheartedly.

I just wanted a chance for a cheap shot at Ted Turner.
posted by ice_cream_motor at 10:01 AM on November 29, 2001


I know that I was being redundant with my post, because I agree with all statements here... but what I assume as common knowledge, and what I assume to be common knowledge amongst MeFites, is not necessarily the common knowledge of Joe Q Public.

If they do pick Osama, what kind of reaction would it create? Especially in this day and age...
posted by mkn at 10:05 AM on November 29, 2001


what kind of reaction would it create? Especially in this day and age...

One in which hundreds of thousands of knees would be solidly jerked.
posted by ice_cream_motor at 10:08 AM on November 29, 2001


From Jeff Bezos to Osama Bin Laden, what a quick change in 4 years it's been.
posted by cell divide at 10:17 AM on November 29, 2001


what kind of reaction would it create? Especially in this day and age...

Well, since Time is under the AOL/TW umbrella, it's not like the US gov't can pull funding for them in retalliation, but it's possible that it will be made crystal clear that they might not get good judiciary treatment in the future if they proceed with such an "unamerican" choice as person of the year.
posted by mathowie at 10:26 AM on November 29, 2001


I like how Turner is lumped together with Hitler, Stalin, Khomeni and now Bin Laden.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2001


i wonder how many people will cry out in outrage, thinking Time magazine is praising Osama....
posted by lotsofno at 10:37 AM on November 29, 2001


lotsofno: the US population is estimated as about 276,059,000 people. While the MeFi community- about 12,000 strong- may not be unanimous in their ability to distinguish between approval and mere recognition of historical import, they'd be darn close to it (I hope!).

So let's conclude that there would be 276,047,000 voice crying in outrage. Yay, yay, USA!
posted by hincandenza at 10:55 AM on November 29, 2001


Eric Fettman of the NY Post suggests that Time change the designation to something like "Newsmaker of the Year."
posted by Carol Anne at 11:08 AM on November 29, 2001


they are picking the biggest newsmaker

No, you are wrong. If so, they would be picking the "biggest newsmaker of the year." Time calls it "Person of the Year."

The article states, "has had the greatest impact on history and the news in the past year." I don't know about you, but Mayor Rudy has had a greater impact on me this year than Osama Bin Laden and will be remembered by history as prominently, if not more so.
posted by fleener at 11:16 AM on November 29, 2001


fleener, Rudy would never have been considered in the first place if his commendable actions were not caused by bin Laden...(if he did it that is).
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2001


No, you are wrong.
no, you are.

I don't know about you, but Mayor Rudy has had a greater impact on me this year than Osama Bin Laden and will be remembered by history as prominently, if not more so.

man of the year is named for his impact on the news, not on you personally.

and mayor rudy's impact on you was made possible by the actions of whom? many non-new yorkers never paid any attention to the guy until osama attacked his city.
posted by quonsar at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2001


Quonsar beat me to it. Unfortunately, without bin Laden, Rudy would be simply another New York mayor on the way out (a more famous one than most, but still just a mayor), not a national symbol.

Bin Laden is the biggest newsmaker of the year, and only people who don't bother to think about it would believe that Time would be endorsing his actions by naming him Person of the Year.
posted by diddlegnome at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2001


And as far as impact on the whole world.... I'd have to say the guy who masterminded knocking down the WTC (if he did it, that is) has much more impact outside of NY.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2001


No, you are wrong.
no, you are.

2 wrongs make me right.
posted by outsider at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2001


They should skip Bin Laden. They already put his face on the cover recently. To do so again this soon would be overkill, if you'll forgive the pun.

My vote'd be for Mayor Giuliani. It's a feelgood answer, sure, but he deserves it more than anybody. And I know this isn't a popularity contest. Giuliani really has impacted the news more than anyone since that day. Though many have questioned his decision-making in the past, history will remember him as one of the greatest mayors of New York City ever. The man who was mayor of the world for one day.

He and those who serve under him coordinated a massive, mind-numbing, unnerving response, reacting based on gut instinct, and previously rehearsed emergency protocols that he helped put into operation. When Bin Laden was in a cave, Shrub was thousands of feet in the air in a plane, and Cheney was being ushered into an undisclosed location, Giuliani was footsteps away from ground zero, trapped in a building which he escaped from with his life, only to reach out and help pull other lives out of the rubble.

He was in the trenches when others ran. Why? He'd probably say something like, "well, it's my job." Or, "Cuz I love my city."

His presence and stamina kept alive the spirit of his city, and indirectly an entire nation. David Letterman made it very clear, in a rare display of serious sincerity, that there would be no Letterman show today if not for Giuliani. In fact, I doubt much of the entertainment industry, or any industry housed in New York would have bounced back as fast as it did. Broadway almost curled up and died, but Guiliani put into operation a publicity campaign, and encouraged people to get back to living. He assured people that New York City was still a safe place to be, and the greatest city in the world - which saved the tourist trade, and the city's economy. And by his example, the rest of the country sighed relief and were able to keep moving forward. Despite what we'd seen, he gave us reason to believe that in the long-term, everything was gonna work out alright.

Under Giuliani's watchful eye, New York's Bravest and New York's Finest had only one public emotional outburst. Under lesser men they would have completely lost control. He did his job, and by his example, the police and firefighting forces and the medical personel did theirs. And partially by his example, others felt encouraged to help out in any way that they could, to the point where they were turning people away at ground zero instead of begging people for help.

His leadership, and those he appointed, helped get the ball rolling to insure the search and rescue operation went smoothly without a hitch, that the cleanup will be the same, and the NYSE was able to get back up and running in less than a week's time, which affected many nations, if not the whole planet. He'd be the first to admit he didn't do any of this single handed. He was the catalyst. He got the ball rolling. Just as Bin Laden suggested to his people that maybe it'd be a good idea to kill a few thousand people that day, Mayor Guiliani strongly encouraged people to save a few thousand people that day.

He helped make a tragedy much less tragic than it could have been. When the media asked questions, he gave direct answers. He counted the dead. He explained the operation. He assured a nation and a world. He even spoke to the UN on behalf of his city and his country. When I think of 911, I don't think of Bush or Bin Laden. I think of the man who for one day, was Mayor of the World. For a very brief moment of time, we were all New Yorkers. In a way we still are.

But what would blow everybody away would be if the cover read "Time - People of the Year" and then they left the cover black.

If they announced that the true People of the Year are the faces we didn't see. The thousands of people who died in WTC and the Pentagon, and in those planes. The people who are still alive are not the ones who have changed the face of the New York skyline or the pulse of humanity - it's the faces of the people we've lost who have forced us to reach for and attempt to define a new state of normalcy.

The terrorists who took over the planes. The Americans who tried to stop them. The quadrapelegic in the tower who couldn't get down the stairs, and his jewish friend who refused to leave his side. The firefighters who raced up the stairs while everyone else raced down. The firefighting servant of God who died serving His people. The photographers who saw through their camera's eye people falling to their deaths, and with their hearts threatening to leap out of their chests, they didn't dare look away.

It's the faces we didn't see that reminded us of what's really important, and taught us lessons of vanity, charity, courage and despair. They're the ones who've really changed the world.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:38 AM on November 29, 2001


I'm afraid I don't have a lot of first-hand knowledge of New York culture. But would someone who lives there/has been there/knows people there care to conjecture on what the city is likely to do if Time does indeed name ObL Person of the Year. For instance, I believe that if my home town were in the same situation, then nearly every newsagent would refuse to sell the publication (possibly forever), and the ones that did sell it would likely get a brick through the window (and likely a lot worse if the owners happened to look middle-eastern). But I've always got the impression that NYC is a much more enlightened and culturally mature place, and would understand that the Person of the Year isn't an accolade, and would not take offense. What do you think would happen? Bricks through windows, or debates over dinner?
posted by dlewis at 11:52 AM on November 29, 2001


For chrissakes, Zach. That's one hella long post.

My vote'd be for Mayor Giuliani. It's a feelgood answer, sure, but he deserves it more than anybody. And I know this isn't a popularity contest. Giuliani really has impacted the news more than anyone since that day. Though many have questioned his decision-making in the past, history will remember him as one of the greatest mayors of New York City ever. The man who was mayor of the world for one day.

History will remember him as the guy that helped rebuild New York, sure. But his impact won't last very long, and isn't nearly as widespread as ObL's.

I have to agree with the others here and say the Osama bin Laden has had more of an impact on the US and the world than anyone this year, and should get the award for that. Anything less would be an atrocity, a vote of self-censorship for fear of reader reaction.

In selecting Osama this year, maybe Time can make up for last year's choice.
posted by dogmatic at 12:01 PM on November 29, 2001


In selecting Osama this year, maybe Time can make up for last year's choice.

The most depressing thing about that link is along the side of the page: "PEOPLE WHO MATTERED: Elian Gonzalez, Hillary Clinton, Richard Hatch." I suppose you could swallow hard and make a case for Elian and Hillary, but the clown who won "Survivor"? So can we expect to see Team Guido (or Bert and Ernie, as they're informally known among the other teams) make the list of Who Mattered if they win "The Amazing Race"? That'd be a sad day. (And not just because these guys would be a much better choice.)
posted by diddlegnome at 12:37 PM on November 29, 2001


Under their rules he probably wins hands down. The problem that I see is that your average muslim extremist, average American for that matter, isn't going to be aware of the rules. Time's Person of The Year sounds very much like a positive acolade.
posted by RobertLoch at 12:45 PM on November 29, 2001


Honestly, if you had to pick the most change-inducing newsworthy person of the past century, you'd have no choice but to pick Hitler, right?

Actually, Time did pick a "Person of the Century;" and while Hitler made their list of top 100 candidates, along with FDR, Gandhi, and Rosa Parks, among others, they went instead with "a cartoonist's dream come true" who was born in the 19th century, died just after the halfway point of the 20th, and still has approximately 100 books in print today.

You'll find their decision, along with great accompanying articles like Walter Isaacson's 'Who Mattered -- And Why,' here.
posted by verdezza at 2:01 PM on November 29, 2001


(Oops! Sorry... must be about 100 books about him. Amazon only [!] sells 51 books they attribute to him personally.)
posted by verdezza at 2:12 PM on November 29, 2001


Only 51? What a freakin' loser... "genius", my ass!
posted by hincandenza at 5:48 PM on November 29, 2001


(Oops, again [this is getting embarrassing]. Dead [Amazon.com] link above, and... "I DON'T KNOW WHY!" <-- said in obnoxiously loud Robin Leach-like voice for no apparent reason, rather like Mr. Leach himself.)
posted by verdezza at 6:01 PM on November 29, 2001


If Time could get away with picking George W. Bush as Person of the Year last year for no less an honorable act as being handed the presidency on a silver platter, what is the problem with picking Osama bin Laden (clearly the sexier of the two), this year? It's not like we're talking about praise here, just newsworthiness.

If it's an award, then give it to someone nobody knows about but who has done the most good and deserves the attention. I don't think it's an award, though.
posted by Poagao at 7:03 PM on November 29, 2001


I'd have to say Guilliani would be my choice. Granted I'm a New Yorker.

As per the question of wether New Yorkers would throw a brick through the Time magazine windows if they picked Bin Laden - I don't think so - I'm not too sure if the city would notice anything in Time magazine too closely. Now if they had him listed as 'New Yorker Of the Year' in like Time Out New York or something useful, there'd be a riot that they'll have to devote another 2 hours of a Ric Burns documentary to.
posted by QrysDonnell at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2001


I say Osama as "Man of the Year". Now, let's hope he won't get to enjoy the title for too much longer.
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:25 PM on November 29, 2001


i don't know... i bet my dad $20 osama won't win it. therefore, osama won't win it. my logic = impeccable. damn you, kcmoryan, you will be vanquished!
posted by onthestereo at 8:35 PM on November 29, 2001


My choice would not be bin Laden personally or The International Terrorist figuratively, but the "person" who I believe is playing, and will for far longer continue to play, a considerably more influential role on the world stage.

I would call that "person" The Awakened (or "Born Again") American.

Without a doubt, bin Laden et al served as the crucial catalyst; but the real power and notoriety belongs to the people who, after sleeping through the 90's, has now fully awakened -- with fierce purpose, implacable resolve, and a greatly enhanced sense of self -- to take what it sees as its rightfully commanding place in the world.

Today, and for the foreseeable future, the U.S. is an unstoppable superpower -- the unstoppable superpower -- newly energized. Since Sept. 11, it's like we've been born again. That's what I think is the story of the year, and the story for years to come.
posted by verdezza at 11:55 PM on November 29, 2001


Now that we all know what people want TIME to do (like I couldn't have guessed), any guesses as to what they will do. I think they will put UBL on there -- although I read some comments on the CNN chat site that were anti-UBL. They may go with the Twin Towers as "Buildings of the Year."

This is the magazine who put Jeff Bezos on the cover for 1999.
posted by rschram at 3:26 PM on December 20, 2001


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