Since 1927, a tradition has occurred in the world of media that is as exciting and mysterious as any. It is equivalent to the Best Drama of the Oscars and the winner of the Super Bowl for sports. Tomorrow Time Magazine will reveal its winner of 2013’s Person of the Year.
Every year, Time Magazine profiles one man, woman or idea that “for better or worse, has most influenced the events of the preceding year” (Rosenberg). The ultimate decision is up to the magazine’s managing editor, currently Nancy Gibbs, and she will announce her pick for the winner on Dec. 11 (Time Staff). A list of the top ten finalists was released today:
Bashar Assad, President of Syria
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
Ted Cruz, Texas Senator
Miley Cyrus, Singer
Pope Francis, Leader of the Catholic Church
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Edward Snowden, N.S.A. Leaker
Edith Windsor, Gay rights activist
It’s an interesting list and a mix of individuals from different spectrums, to be sure, not to mention it is fairly predictable. However, I’d like to think that one or two of these may just have been thrown into the top ten to stir up some discussion.
Miley Cyrus is the first one in that category for me. Sure, she’s created an incredible amount of media buzz this past year with her unpredictable antics, twerking, and eyebrow dying, but I would be hard pressed to say that she has had any significant influence on anything other than being some mindless topic of discussion.
Ted Cruz is the other person I would be shocked to see actually named Person of the Year. He became famous this past September with his more than 21 hour filibuster opposing the Affordable Care Act and a leader in the Tea Party. He did became well-known in American politics and a central figure in the nation’s government shutdown, yet there are others on the list incredibly more deserving than he in substantial ways.
I’m glad to see gay rights activist Edith Windsor on the list, as expected, though I thought this might have been an interesting opportunity for the magazine to do something similar to what they did with 2011’s Person of the Year, The Protester. This could have been the year of The Heterosexual. With the toppling of the Defense of Marriage Act and many states legalizing same-sex marriage, this has been a year in which this group Windsor won’t claim the title, but she is still an exceptionally important addition to the final list of those who impacted the past year.
I feel like I have to say something about Bashar al-Assad. He isn’t first on my list of who I think will be named as the most influential individual of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Debate about what to do in Syria as the bloody civil war ensues has been a popular global topic this year, and the country’s president has been accused of utilizing chemical weapons against his people. He has not been shy about showing his face on popular media outlets to try and plead his side of the story.
Pope Francis, the first leader of the Catholic Church from the Americas and controversial – yet extremely humble – Catholic, has undoubtedly been one of the most talked about and influential people of this year. His statements ranging from being accepting of all to the global economy have stirred up vast amounts of discussion that has reached far beyond those concerned with the Catholic doctrine. The Pope topped the list of most talked about topics on Facebook this year; he’s got more than 3.3 million followers on Twitter; he’s everywhere! I’m torn between predicting that Pope Francis will be bestowed the honor; I want it to be him, but I think Snowden will take the cake.
The former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has been in the news daily since June when he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified government documents concerning government surveillance to The Washington Post and the Guardian. He stirred up a lot of discussion about surveillance limitations and many question whether or not his acts were treasonous. The information affected millions of people, not to mention the U.S. government as a whole, and his story continued to unfold throughout the rest of the year. Snowden will be difficult candidate to beat for the most influential individual of 2013.