In a word, Time Magazine’s designation of “the protester” as person of the year means nothing to me. I’ve been a protester for most of my 60 years on this planet, starting in my teens when I took to the streets in civil rights and anti-Vietnam War demos and later with gay liberation. I don’t need some corporate media to recognize what millions of us did in the past and do now every day.
That being said, this year has indeed been an extraordinary one for those who set out to topple dictators and to try to establish some form of democracy in their countries.
Including our own nation. It’s hard to talk of democracy when millions are without jobs, homes and/or healthcare. It’s hard to talk of democracy when more and more children go to school hungry while others live the lives of the “Gossip Girl” or the “Beverly Hills 90210” crowd.
In no time at all, the Occupy Wall Street movement has provoked regular discussion of these economic inequities in a media that has usually refused to recognize them. That this movement spread like wildfire from sea to shining sea is a testament to the fact that it struck a chord with a lot of people, some of them new to taking to the streets.
“Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough,” Time’s Editor Rick Stengel stated the other day when the magazine issue debuted. “They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering.”
One thing that Stengel forgot to mention was the corporate media’s role in trying to ignore or downplay protests here in our own land. When Occupy Wall Street started its encampment in New York City’s Liberty Plaza, where was Time Magazine?
Doing what every other mainstream media outlet was doing, not seeing or hearing the cries of “we’ve had enough.” Until, of course, police began abusing the hell out of campers and the media, which craves the sight of blood dripping from a protester’s head, swarmed in to catch every swing of the billy club.
Let’s face it, Time Magazine is trying to cash in on the revolution. Sure, editors can wax eloquently about the uprisings and their impact on world politics, but the reality is that choosing the protester for its annual cover person is a good way to sell magazines. And that’s the business Time Magazine and other corporate media is engaged in.
It’s really about the bottom line, the same one that protesters in this country are most upset with.
Ironic, isn’t it?