TIME Magazine just announced its "Person of the Year" ("Ebola fighters"), a distinction pulled from a list of eight finalists chosen by the editors, which was released earlier this week.
And of the eight finalists, only one woman made the cut: Taylor Swift. That's it.
Swift is "one of the world's top-selling pop artists, who shook up the music industry by pulling her music from streaming service Spotify, which she believes should compensate artists more."
Now, I have nothing against Taylor Swift. Her music makes millions happy, and she happens to have had quite a transformation this year on social issues, especially in her claiming of feminist values.
But Person of the Year? For pulling her music from Spotify? Are you kidding me?
Meanwhile, Beyonce has not only sold more albums this year than Taylor Swift using an innovative business model but did so while being quite outspoken on feminist issues, on and off her new album. She has sparked ongoing discussions within the feminist community on white privilege, sexuality, and what it means to be a feminist.
I don't say this to cast Taylor Swift in a negative light (nor do I believe it does) but to illustrate how blatantly ridiculous TIME is when it comes to pop culture.
Because although TIME claims "Person of the Year" is about influence (or newsmakers) rather than popularity, we kinda all know that's bullshit.
TIME picked Taylor Swift because she's the "right" kind of popular, someone young who's edgy and fun enough to appeal to younger Americans without discomforting anyone over 65. Their citing Spotify serves as (very weak) support of her place on the list.
On the other hand, Beyonce, who has sold more albums and definitely has more influence, is seen as something generally threatening to older, white Americans: a young, successful black woman who is confident in her skin and expressing her sexuality.
But the average Millennial knows all this. We get it: TIME wants to sell as many copies as possible while pissing off as few people as possible. "Person of the Year" is simply the sensational heap of shit we all get to look forward to around this time of year.
So, why does this matter? Why should we care what TIME peddles out to older Americans?
Because although TIME has a habit of being ridiculous, that doesn't mean they don't wield an enormous amount of influence on how our society perceives itself. And the fact that TIME regularly excludes women, especially women of color, from these "markers of power and influence" is infuriating and exasperating.
TIME is not just a news magazine. Even when they're being stupid, they're shaping the national dialogue of our country.
So, when TIME essentially says that Taylor Swift--of Spotify merit--is the woman who made the greatest substantial impact in 2014 (and the only one worth noting), people listen to that. They accept it.
Because Beyonce isn't the only woman who should have made TIME's list of finalists.
What about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for leading a national fight in Congress on behalf of victims of sex crimes in the military?
Or Shonda Rhimes, who has three television shows in primetime with high ratings and cultural influence?
Or Anita Sarkeesian, creator of @FeministFrequency, who has received rape and death threats--and generated a national discussion--over her calling out of sexism in video games?
Or Emma Watson, whose speech at the U.N. on her new organization #HeForShe and the role of men in gender equality sparked debate and advocacy among millions around the world?
What about Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Dianne Feinstein or Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen or Malala Yousafzai?
Because 2014 saw no shortage of women influencing the world, and it was yet another year in which women arguably had just as much--if not more--influence as men in world events.
But you know who did make the list?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the guy who got outsmarted by TMZ after he literally worked to cover-up domestic violence among players in the league and then, seemed to be completely incompetent in the aftermath of the scandal.
THAT guy was named one of TIME's finalists because apparently, profound stupidity and unethical behavior are enough to get a highly visible man ranked among the most influential people in the world although it's not really clear who exactly he influenced since even NFL players have been openly critical of his leadership.
So, when TIME ignores all these influential women in favor of less influential men, it increases the disparity of how women are viewed in society because when they put something on the cover (and choose to ignore other subjects), people talk about it (or don't), regardless of its importance or accuracy.
And after TIME's apology-non-apology in response to last year's backlash over the same damn thing, I kinda expected them to do better this year, maybe be more nuanced and understanding of how they influence what people are thinking.
But 2014 hasn't seen much change. Earlier this year, TIME published an op-ed on how male/white/straight privilege doesn't exist by an unknown straight, white male undergrad student from Princeton.
Amid that backlash, more attention was drawn to TIME's blatant snub of Laverne Cox, a transgender actress and advocate who won the website's public poll for "Person of the Year" by a healthy margin, yet appeared nowhere on the long list of finalists among the editor's choices.
Who did appear on that list? Miley Cyrus, alongside two other women, former Sec. Kathleen Sebelius and Edith Windsor... out of a total of ten finalists.
Some will say, "Well, they put the Ferguson protestors on this year's list. Isn't that a big deal?"
No, a big deal would be putting Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, or Eric Garner on the list as the face of police brutality and the effect of white privilege. That would be addressing racism head-on in a way that is effective in discussion, even if uncomfortable for older, whiter readers.
TIME likes to talk a big game about "Person of the Year" representing the zeitgeist, being a "singularity" that best represents that year's events, which is why choosing individuals (or a small group of individuals) is more compelling to that end than selecting a demographic.
Which is why TIME's other finalists are specific names rather than events: for the entertainment value and singularity factor.
They knew they couldn't simply ignore Ferguson and police brutality, but they could frame it in the most palatable way possible to white Americans. Their announcement of the finalist doesn't have the words "racism" or "policy brutality" but only alludes to it by saying a white officer killed a black teenager.
But please, let's make sure we get the nitty-gritty on how Taylor Swift is changing the world by pulling her music from Spotify.
In fact, that should be TIME's "Person of the Year": white privilege. The cover will be a collage of incidents that all-too-painfully illustrate it.
That'll be a welcome respite from their usual "edginess", which hovers a few notches above the sight of Speaker John Boehner in a backwards baseball cap.