TIME Person of the Year: Pope Frank. Ho hum.

Which, to be fair, I like the guy and he’s great at doing little things that piss off the right people:

And yet in less than a year, he has done something remarkable: he has not changed the words, but he’s changed the music. Tone and temperament matter in a church built on the substance of symbols—bread and wine, body and blood—so it is a mistake to dismiss any Pope’s symbolic choices­ as gestures empty of the force of law.

That being said, TIME Man of the Year (as it was more honestly called until 1999; only four individual women have been recognized since its inception in 1927) was awarded to Chiang Kai-shek in 1937 and Adolf goddamn Hitler the very next year. The title isn’t an honor in the traditional “hey these are people who are doing excellent things and we should all be recognizing that” sense, it’s simply a little bit more publicity for someone that everyone at the time probably already knows about for good or ill. It is, explicitly, a way to sell copies of TIME.

When I became cognizant of the “award” in high school, it was for a writing assignment in English – we were tasked with writing a fake nomination letter for someone to TIME magazine as an exercise in writing persuasively. It struck me even then as patently stupid: the people we as high schoolers knew most about had absolutely no chance of being accepted as a PotY, because they’re looking for some generic platitudes about someone everyone already knows.

It seems to me that TIME doesn’t think that people want to learn about new people out there doing awesome things; they want people who were already in the news, who everyone’s already heard of (Miley Cyrus and Edward Snowden, for example, were nominated). They do an exposé that’s essentially a literature search; they don’t have to actually interview the person because it’s already been done a thousand times.

So I say: fuck that noise. We’ve got plenty of occasion to talk about Pope Frank. I want to see more publicity given to CNN’s unsung heroes:

Even before the quake, [Malya Villard-Appolon] says, rape was an issue in Haiti, historically underreported because of social stigma, retaliation from perpetrators and a lack of legal support. That is what led her and Marie Eramithe Delva to start KOFAVIV in 2004. Since the group’s inception, it has helped more than 4,000 rape survivors find safety, psychological support and/or legal aid.

I want to hear about people helping their communities in ways that don’t get international coverage all the time. I don’t care which already-famous person is named the most-famousest; I want to live in a world where these are the stories that make the front page of reddit and get thousands of words written about them on blog posts and local news outlets. I want to live in a world where being a CNN Hero is a way bigger deal than just being a silly old TIME Person of the Year.

2 thoughts on “TIME Person of the Year: Pope Frank. Ho hum.

  1. MichaelF says:

    At least they didn’t name Ted Cruz…

  2. thebewilderness says:

    Pope seems to be their fall back choice when they can’t decided on their man of the year. Except that one time they claimed it was us.

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