December 10, 2013

Jeff Bezos should be TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year


After all, they don't call it the "Person With a Soul of the Year."

After all, they don’t call it the “Person With a Soul of the Year.”

TIME is choosing their Person of the Year again this Wednesday, and while the competition is tough this year, Jeff Bezos deserves to win.

After a long rough year, rife with upstart lists that don’t make any kind of coherent sense, it’s a comfort to be back to the greatest list ever known to humanity, that ultimate laurel bestowed on only the greatest gimmicks of our age, the TIME person of the year list. Given to computers, basically every president, and even a sort of reflective foil thing that one time, as if TIME were an anniversary issue of X-Factor from the mid-nineties, the Person of the Year is at once our greatest honor and a cold calculation, designed to move issues in airport newsstands from Dubuque to Dunedin.

Time has posted their list of ten nominees, a list itself obviously calculated to cause uproar online, (at least among the three people in the world who read TIME) and also somehow have an internet connection. This year’s nominees include the president, the pope, Miley Cyrus, Bashar Assad, Hassan Rouhani, Edward Snowden, and everyone’s favorite cash-rich follicle-poor droneketeer Jeff Bezos.

All of these are worthy choices, if your only criterion is that my grandmother might think the name sounds familiar. Otherwise this is clearly just the magazine trolling us. The new pope is pretty great, (though mostly in contrast to every other pope but the first) and I admire Snowden, but some of these choices are only there to rile us up. President Obama bought a Khaled Hosseini book during his recent trip to Politics and Prose, for crying out loud. That’s hard to overlook. The man has no place on this list.

I’ll admit that my instinct is to write off Bezos as well. After all, the guy is working to destroy the livelihoods of nearly everyone I call a friend. But giving the win to Bezos could, in a way, be a good nod to one of the predominant narratives of this year; extending the rights of humanity to all, even those we might not have, in the past, called ‘people.’ Bezos is one of the world’s great diversity success stories. Think of it, a fiend from some elemental plane of greed, ambition and pain is born unto this world in a frail human shell. He’s awkward, he has trouble making friends. people find his laughter and his insistence on devouring everyone in his path off-putting. But with time the young fleshpuppet learns to fit in, to hide his darker urges in the more accepted world of business, to build desks out of doors. He learns that his hunger for flesh can be sated with a steady diet of joint pain, misery, and bookseller sorrows. Yes, Jeff Bezos can never be a human. He’s perhaps more like a velociraptor, opening doors, setting up ambushes, owning one of the country’s greatest newspapers.

But in this year, defined in part by the extension of rights to more of humanity, perhaps it’s time we begin to discuss extending our definition of personhood even to those terrifying predators that stalk among us wearing our flesh. In an age when computers are ever more intelligent, when our understanding of the complexities of intelligence itself are ever-expanding, why not widen our horizons, why not embrace even those individuals who are trying to tear off our arms? It’s time, I say, and the TIME Person of the Year award is an ideal place to begin that discussion.

That’s why I call on TIME Magazine to give this award to Jeff Bezos, figurehead for ravening monsters everywhere.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.