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AN OPEN LETTER

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;To the Editors of Time:

;;Looking at Time magazine's selection for 2006's "Person of the Year," I can see that you're in trouble. I can't believe you chose "You," as in "you people who use services like YouTube and MySpace." I mean, how much of a copout is that?

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;In fact, your previous choices in this still-newish millennium weren't much better. True, your pick for 2001, Rudy Giuliani, was defensible. But your picks for 2000 and 2004 suggest a certain desperation. I mean, they were both George W. Bush. Once, maybe. But twice?

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;Even more troubling were:

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;2002: The Whistleblowers.

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;2003: The American Soldier.

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;2005: Bono and Melinda and Bill Gates, for Pete's sake!

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;Vague, vaguer and just plain odd: That's not so much a list as a cry for help. After those and "You," I have to wonder what's next? The Lipitor Users? The Department-Store Santas? The Hollaback Girls?

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;Meanwhile, there was one name that could have instantly restored your credibility. In case it isn't totally obvious, I mean Borat Sagdiyev.

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;First, let's clear away the inevitable objection that Borat is not, strictly speaking, a person. As practically everyone knows, he is the title character of the hit film Borat: Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. This character, an amiable but alarmingly insensitive Eastern European television journalist, was created and is played by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

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;But Borat is at least as much of a person as "You." And if you will consult your magazine's history, you'll see that this detail would have presented no obstacle. The winner in 1950 was GI Joe, a fictional character if ever there was one. Other winners who were not, strictly speaking, specific real people include The Computer (1982) and, again, The American Soldier (2003, just another name for GI Joe). And while we're on the subject of fictional characters, I'm not real sure about Ted Turner (1991) or Ronald Reagan (1980 and 1983).

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;Clearly, Borat was eligible to be Time's Person of the Year. But he was more than just eligible. He was by far the best choice.

;;For one thing, he isn't American. Let's face it, Time editors, almost all of your winners, especially since 1990, have been citizens of, as Borat likes to say, "the U.S. and A."? Does that sound fair?

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;Another thing in Borat's favor was that, like most of your winners throughout history, he maintains a positive attitude, especially about this country. Even regarding our problems in Iraq, for example, Borat remains unshakably upbeat.

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;"May George W. Bush," he announces in his film, "drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq!"

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;Talk about your can-do spirit. Niiice!

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;And the "U.S. and A." likes Borat, too: The reviews have been spectacular and the "moviefilm" has grossed over $100 million, making it officially a blockbuster.

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;For a film to earn that much, it has to reach many kinds of people. Not just teens and 20-somethings, the most avid filmgoers; not just fans of satire (a small group) and of nude wrestling (evidently, a much larger group), but many, many kinds of people. And when you consider that Borat has achieved its success without much in the way of special effects or a major star (no, Pamela Anderson doesn't count), it's really pretty amazing.

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;Not everyone, of course, likes Borat. Inevitably, there are those who pick at his imperfections — his sexism, perhaps. But your list, by its very nature, is sexist. Do you realize that since your tradition began in 1927, the names of only four actual specific women have appeared on the list?

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;As for the anti-Semitism issue, that, too, should not be a barrier. After all, Adolf Hitler, a real expert in that field, made your list in 1938 — to say nothing of Richard Nixon, who won twice (1971 and 1972).

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;Besides, we shouldn't lose track of Borat's status as a fictional character in a satirical film. He isn't really promoting sexism or anti-Semitism or racism or homophobia or anything like that. To get serious for a moment, he is being used to expose just how vile and clueless views like those are and how many of us … or, rather "You" hold them. A vote for Borat, in other words, is a vote against the Mel Gibsons and George "Macaca" Allens of the world (to say nothing of the bizarre case of Michael Richards).

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;That's why I respectfully suggest that you really should have made Borat your Person of the Year. The truth, dear Time editors, is that you needed Borat Sagdiyev a lot more than he needs you — or "You."

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;Yours for Kazakhstan,

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;J.B. Mitchell

; film@orlandoweekly.com

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