December 17, 2006

TIME 2006 Person Of The Year: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (No?)



TIME’s ’06 Person of the Year is You?  I mean, Me?  I mean You?

What a cop out.  I’ll tell you who they wanted to pick — but didn’t have the chutzpah.  For weeks, TIME has been obsessed with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as their Person Of The Year.

As TIME writer Scott Macleod notes in the introductory paragraph of last week’s  “75 minute” interview with the Iranian President, this sit down was TIME’s second with Ahmadinejad  “in just the past three months.”  (…Okay, so either there’s not a whole lot of presidential business to do in Tehran these days or you guys are being used!)

That’s not the best of it, though.  Check out the article’s promo headline:


Maybe the media is just too pathetic to be analyzed anymore.  (And, maybe the American Idol winner should also be automatically nominated for a National Medal of Arts.)  Either way, “You” was a lot safer choice than actually getting married to the secret boy friend.

So, out goes Ahmadinejad.  Out goes the nasty speculation about the flip-side of America’s empire-building and the perpetual need for an over-glorified uber-villain.  Out goes all that nasty chatter (from “You 2.0,”  by the way) about the delusional side of America’s fundamentalist instinct and the need for an over-glorified, antagonistic religious infidel.  And out goes even more gnashing and grinding about the elevation of these bad boys as a form of self-fulfilling prophesy.

So AH ends ’06 merely as a runner-up.  Still, as the chief beneficiary of the neocon’s make-over of Sunni-Shiite relations, and a skillful gamer in the massaging of western media, I was on the edge of my seat over how TIME was going to frame Mahmoud as  POY.

Specifically, I was wondering how they would do the cover.

Knowing how interested they were, I can’t believe there wasn’t a specific image already in mind.  Would they have highlighted him as the singular “everyman,” like they ultimately did in his 2006 People Who Mattered profile?  Would that have been the cover shot?  Or, were they contemplating a slightly foreboding painting, like the ’79 treatment of AH’s revolutionary inspiration, the Ayatollah Khomeini?

If they really had the balls, though, they would have gone with The BAG‘s recommendation.  I mean, TIME did use a “Rabbi” shot from Iran’s so-called Holocaust conference to accompany the interview referenced above, but only in the most oblique, I’d call it “yellow-bellied” way.

I say to TIME, thanks for the honor, but you blinked with “You.”  You were angling to do it, you were teasing to do it, you should have done it.  And, in doing it, you could have gone all the way — by recognizing Ahmadinejad for his true calling, as one part “evil-doer” creation, and the other part, a well-skilled political and racial P.T. Barnum.

Short of naming Bush the POY for his historic one-year descent, perhaps photographing him in bed with Nancy Pelosi, or Barney Frank even, you had the opportunity to show Ahmadinejad in his finest form.  I mean, you blew the chance to showcase your boy in the midst of the be-all, end-all of photo ops, lauded by some of America’s most commensurately ultra-extreme, including white supremacist David Duke, and this handful of loving, immaculately dressed, and wonderfully photogenic anti-Zionist Jews.

… But then, you can only do “You” once.  The way things are going, however, Mahmoud will probably be even bigger next year.

(hat tip: Leo)

(image: Hossein Fatemi/Fars News Agency.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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