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The 7 Most Overrated Time Magazine Persons of the Year

Posted: 11/21/11 02:08 PM ET

It's that time again, when we start to ponder that age-old question: who will be Time magazine's Person of the Year? Since 1923, the cover of Time has been a sign of people who matter in the world. The Person of the Year, started four years later, goes to someone who really matters. Allegedly. Most of the time, it's been given to giants -- Gandhi to Gorby, Lindbergh to Zuckerberg. This year, nobody really stands out yet. The Middle Eastern freedom fighters, perhaps? (It went to the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956.) Will they give it to Obama again, now that bin Laden's dead and Obama's daughters are doing their homework? Or, with all these natural disasters, will they do something cute like give it to Angry Earth (just like they gave it to Endangered Earth in 1988)? If they get it wrong, it won't be the first time.

Here are some of the previous winners who really didn't deserve that lofty title. Feel free to comment. In fact, feel free to come up with your own ideas on the new Overrated blog. Any violent arguments graciously received...

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Pierre Laval (1931)
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The new Premier of France was named Man of the Year (as it was then, at least on most years) as a figure of admiration and hope while the world faced the Great Depression, described as “calm, masterful and popular”, giving “the constant impression that he and his government were working, are working.” Yet for all his posturing, the Great Depression would continue for the rest of the decade. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, he became head of the Vichy (German-controlled) state and collaborated with the Nazis, sending non-French Jews to concentration camps. After the war, he was executed for treason by the French Government. One of the world’s great lost causes.

Who should have won? The title is meant to go to the influence, not inspiration (and certainly not media hype). Time was trying to be optimistic with Laval, but the mismanagement of US President Herbert Hoover’s cabinet did more to lead the world… into another eight years of Depression.
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