Donald Trump winning the Presidency was a shock to many. Now another shock wave has been created as he has been awarded Time magazine’s Person of the Year award.
The magazine named the President-elect as its person of the year 2016 this Wednesday and published a portrait image of Trump on the cover. Trump beat finalists Hillary Clinton, Beyonce and Vladimir Putin to win the honour.
Time editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs said it was the easiest decision the magazine has ever made for the honour. She cited the upheaval in American politics brought about by his election campaign and victory.
‘It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption,’ Time said in its announcement. ‘It’s not an endorsement’ Time said in it’s defence for picking Donald Trump.
The magazine has been incredibly critical of both Trump and his politics over the past year, with the August 22 issue of Time showing Trump’s melting face with the word ‘Meltdown.’
Two months later, on October 24, the image was even more severe with the subhead reading ‘Total Meltdown.’
His disruption includes the destruction of reigning political structures, of civility and manners of speaking, of the unity of diverse races, globalism and sexual restraint.
To his believers he is the harbinger of changes which have been long due. For better or for worse Trump is all set to preside over the USA.
“This is the 90th time we have named the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year. So which is it this year: Better or worse? The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer,” Nancy Gibbs said.
Time makes its annual choice based on the impact a person has on world events – good or bad. Time has occasionally chosen controversial figures, among them Adolf Hitler (in 1938) and Josef Stalin (twice: in 1939 and 1942).
In 1969, it chose “The Middle Americans” for the honour, celebrating them for continuing to pray in public schools in defiance of the United States Supreme Court and electing Richard M. Nixon (who himself would become the person of the year in 1971) to the White House.
Nearly 40 years later, the magazine plastered a mirror on the cover of the magazine and named “You” its person of the year for 2006. In 1982, there was a “machine of the year”: the computer.
This was the second year in a row that Trump had been a finalist of the accolade. Last year Mr Trump had posted a bitter tweet after German Chancellor Angela Merkel took out the honour.
” I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favourite. They picked person who is ruining Germany,” he said then.
This year, he has got his wish.
‘To be on the cover of Time as Person of the Year is a tremendous honour,’ Trump said.
Mr. Trump was not happy about the title that he was the ‘president of the divided states of America’ on the cover.
‘Well I think putting divided is snarky. But again it’s divided, I’m not president yet. I didn’t do anything to divide,’ he said.
But he added: “When you say divided states of America, I didn’t divide them. They’re divided now. I mean there’s a lot of division, and we’re going to put it back together and we’re going to have a country that’s very well healed.”
Seeing the real estate baron and casino owner turned reality-TV star, provocateur and bombastic president-elect billionaire touted as the most influential person in world affairs was a bitter pill to swallow for his critics.
Social media was full of wise cracks and memes about the current situation. People both applauded and criticised the creative director of the shoot for giving Mr Trump a chair to sit in that looked remarkably similar to the one that Adolf Hitler was pictured in for his cover for the same accolade in 1938.
‘Interesting how @Time put Hitler and Trump in similar chairs and positions, back-to-back. Intentional I’m sure,’ one Twitter user wrote.
Another said: ‘Hitler, Stalin, Putin and now Trump. All have been person of the year. @realDonaldTrump is in bad company. Ok I get it Time, makes sense.’
Many suggested that the magazine had subtly portrayed Trump as the devil by placing the ‘M’ over his head giving the appearance of him having 2 red horns.
‘Shocked that TIME has appropriated Satan himself, but at least they gave him the devil horns he deserves,’ one Twitter user wrote.
Others applauded the presumably difficult makeup job done to turn Trump’s face from orange to white.
According to the magazine’s editorial director Radhika Jones, the winner is someone “who best represents the news of the year”.
“The pick also needs to have archival value. You need the sense that it will stand the test of time. So ideally, we want our Person of the Year to be both a snapshot of where the world is and a picture of where it’s going,” she had said in 2014.
TIME editor Nancy Gibbs writes that Trump is Person of the Year for “reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it,” for “empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears” and for “framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s.”
For the 2016 Person of the Year issue, TIME commissioned Nadav Kander to photograph President-elect Donald Trump. This is not the first time that Kander has photographed the cover image for TIME’s Person of the Year issue. In fact, Kander took the cover portrait the last time an election-year President received the title, when President Barack Obama was Person of the Year in 2012.