Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Choose your fellow award winners carefully


Several fellow bloggers made something this week of Time magazine’s “2006 Person of the Year” award to “You” to celebrate the rise of blogging, YouTube, MySpace and other “user-generated” sites. Very flattering and all that, but a trawl through past winners is much more interesting. Musicians are notable by their absence, which does raise questions about the relevancy of contemporary music. Music can drive change, but the last time it featured was way back in 1966 when rock-fuelled Young People took the award because“they shook up society, and trusted no one over 30”. U2’s Bono was a joint winner last year, but in recognition of his charity work rather than his music.

The media and new technology have done better with awards going to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (1999), Ted Turner (1991) and The Computer (1982). Unsurprisingly politics supplies most winners, and the dodgy double winners include George W. Bush (2004 & 2000), Ronald Reagan (1980 & 1983) and Richard Nixon (1971 & in 1972 jointly with Henry Kissinger), with Ayatullah Khomeini scoring just once in 1979.

But before we all get too excited about being Time “Person of the Year” remember that it is awarded to the person “who most affected the news and our lives, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse.” So, for better or for worse, the award puts us alongside Joseph Stalin (right) who won twice, including in 1942 for being “the US’ new ally in the war against Hitler.” And Uncle Adolf himself doesn’t go unrecognised. Hitler was “Person of the Year” in 1938. He was celebrated in the issue dated January 2, 1939, which was less than two months after Kristallnacht. In this pogrom, on the night of November 9-10 1938 thousands of Jewish homes and stores were ransacked across Germany, and more than 1500 synagogues were attacked or set on fire.


In fairness to Time the fate of the Jews was clearly highlighted in the award article, and the cover for the 1938 award issue, showing organist Adolf Hitler playing his hymn of hate in a desecrated cathedral while victims dangle on a St. Catherine's wheel and Nazis look on, was drawn by Baron Rudolph Charles von Ripper, a Catholic who found Germany intolerable. But despite all that I'm not sure this blogger will be adding Time 'Person of the Year' for 2006 to his CV.

Now take An Overgrown Path to The Year is ‘72
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