Miley Cyrus has had quite a 2013, but is she the person of the year? Does her propensity for twerking and her lively awards show performances make her more noteworthy than people who shape national and foreign policy, stand up against governments, or lead a church?
Voters in Time’s Person of the Year poll say “yes.”
Miley currently has a lock on first place in the Reader Poll portion of Time’s annual contest by nearly seven percent, with 24.7 percent of the vote. Her closest competition is Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, followed by Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, India; Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces; Texas congresswoman Wendy Davis, and Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who went on the run after leaking classified documents.
I don’t think Snowden’s 2.4 percent of the vote poses any threat to Miley, and neither do Pope Francis and Jimmy Fallon, who each have less than one percent. In last place? Speaker of the House John Boehner, with 0.3 percent of the vote.
All of this numerical business means that Miley is at the clear head of the pack of world leaders. You could say she came in like a wrecking ball, even (or at least I would.)
The reader poll might be an indicator of support in the arena of public opinion, but it’s the editors who have the final say in who makes Time’s cover as the year’s most notable person or entity. Their choice in 2012? President Barack Obama, with runners up including Malala Yousafzai; the new head of Apple, Tim Cook; President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi; and Fabiola Gianotti, one of the scientists who discovered the Higgs boson particle.
Time appears to know it’s got a live one on its hands.
— TIME.com (@TIME) November 29, 2013
A scan of Twitter shows that fan response to this question was a swift and supportive yes. Is this the reason for Miley’s distinct lead, or is it hackers? Nothing’s been confirmed yet, so for now Miley stays comfortably in first place.
Time has thrown some curveballs in the past. “The Protester” was the Person of the Year in 2011, and in 1988 it was “The Endangered Earth.” It was the computer in 1982, and “American Women” in 1975. Individuals are chosen who have shaped culture and historical events, positively or negatively, most notably Adolf Hilter in 1938.
At 21, Miley would be the youngest Person of the Year ever, behind Charles Lindbergh, who was 25 at the time, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who was 26 when he got the nod in 2010.
I learned a lot about newsworthiness in journalism school from a professor who hammered home that if people are interested in reading about it, whatever it is is probably pretty newsworthy. People who say “Why Miley Cyrus for Person of the Year? Why?” only have to look at the intense media and public scrutiny of and interet in her behavior to say what I do: “Why not?” Voting continues until December 4, and the winner will be announced on December 11.
UPDATE: Since posting this, Miley Cyrus is still in first place but her percent of the vote has fallen to 20 percent, with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan being a close second and third, respectively. Stay up-to-date on the latest poll results right here!
Image credit: Pacific Coast News