2011 was the Year of the Protester. Not only the Occupy movement in the U.S. – this included (and was mainly about) protesters around the world. Definitely a good move on the part of Time. These people made changes in the way things are done all over the world, especially in the areas of human rights, politics, and education. (Maybe Twitter should have been mentioned, since that’s how many of them communicated with each other and organized their protests. But again – who knows.)
This year has its share of political news staples as candidates. Let’s look at the top 5 in the ‘People’s Choice’ voting arena.
Kim Jong Un is currently in first place by more than two and a half million votes thanks to 4chan, who do it solely for the lulz. Mohamed Morsi (Egyptian President who recently released his inner Palpatine) is in second. Malala Yousafazi, the young girl in Pakistan who was shot for trying to attend school comes in third. Fourth place currently goes to ‘Undocumented Immigrants’, the group formerly known as ‘Illegal Aliens’. Obama’s announcement this past summer that deals with immigration reform and some types of amnesty gave (by some estimates) over one million people a shot at a new life. And fifth place goes to Psy.
Who is Psy, you might ask? Oh, he’s the guy who has that song, ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’. You know, the catchy song that’s blowing up the airwaves and has almost 900 million views on YouTube. (It even passed Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’!)
Is this what our society has come to? The inclusion of a guy whose sole ambition is to entertain on a list of people who changed the world? 1982 saw the release of ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson, but he didn’t make the list. (The Computer took top billing that year, in case you were curious.)
If Psy had taken all this publicity and pointed to the plight of North Koreans, fine – put him on the list. If he’d taken the profits from this song and fed millions of people who are starving, great – put him on the list. And so and so forth.
Now don’t get me wrong – the world needs entertainment, and Psy is about as entertaining as they come. He did an AMA (AMA stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’) on the aggregate site Reddit, and even that was entertaining. He’s everywhere, and you can’t get away from the song, or the dance that goes with it. But at this point, even Psy is sick of ‘Gangnam Style’.
But I’m sure that even Psy himself would question why he’s on the list – and even more so why he’s at number 5. He’s higher on the list than Bashar Assad and tons of other people who stand in positions to change the face of the world as we know it, for better or for worse.
Of course, this is a list that also includes Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, so that’s not saying much.
I guess my main question is this: Have we, as a society, as a nation, and as a world, become so dependent on entertainment that we consider a performer as one of the top five most important and newsworthy people in the world? I realize we have ‘news outlets’ (note the plural – I’m not picking on just one here) that are there for nothing more than to incite anger and hatred for ‘the other side’, but do we really have to let entertainment slip into the actual news about how the world is changed?
If Anderson Cooper wants to run a two and a half minute segment on a goat, that’s fine. If your 6:00 news wants to run a feel-good story about the local high school drama club doing a performance of ‘Brigadoon’, that’s wonderful. Like I said before, the world needs entertainment. We all need some form of escape, be it movies, music, books, plays – whatever. I suggest a large, healthy dose of entertainment each day. (I am not a doctor, so your mileage may vary.)
Time Magazine – you’re one of the last bastions of ‘non-partisan’ reporting out there. You print a weekly news magazine that talks about what’s going on in the world. Sure, you change your covers in the U.S. so we don’t always get what’s happening elsewhere, but until recently, you’ve made an effort to help us in the U.S. not live in our own little bubble, and give us some insight as to what’s happening in places that we otherwise would never have even heard of.
How about a deal, Time: Let QRE handle the entertainment, and you handle the actual news.
You can vote for yourself in Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ poll right here.