Welcome to the first annual Beemer Awards! In this post, I will express my opinions on many subjects (several of which I am admittedly unqualified in) and confer praise and ridicule on those who are possibly most deserving of this recognition. The awards celebrate the most outstanding achievements--and blunders--of the past year. We'll start with the top prize...Person of the Year.
Person of the Year
I concur with Time Magazine's choice of the Protester as its Person of the Year. Unlike Time, however, I prefer to confer this honor on a specific individual, so on behalf of all the year's protestors, the 2011 Beemer Award for Person of the Year is awarded to Asmaa Mahfouz, an Egyptian activist who helped to spark the protests there that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, and contributed to a wave of revolutionary activity that continues to spread throughout the Arab World and elsewhere. Asmaa is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, and her incendiary video posted to Facebook in January helped to consolidate the growing anti-Mubarak movement. Asmaa was also a public supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States, making her one of the most prominent links between the year's largest protest movements.
Sportsperson of the Year
My choice is Dewey Bozella, the boxer who, at 52 years old, won his first and last professional match in October. Bozella had recently been released from prison after serving 26 years for a murder that it's now clear he did not commit.
(Runners-up: Japan Women's Soccer Team, Peyton Manning--who did more to prove his worth to his team by not playing than he would have had he been healthy enough to play--and Tim Tebow)
Musician of the Year
The Beemer Award goes to Rebecca Black, because when you're 13 and your song becomes one of the most-watched YouTube videos of all time, and your name is the year's top search term, you're winning. And I mean that both with and without irony (see entry for Celebrity of the Year, below). I honestly have never heard her song, so I don't know if it's as bad as people say--but Rebecca has done more to advance her career than any other musician this year, so the award belongs to her.
(Runners-up: Tunisian rapper El General, Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj)
Celebrity of the Year
The Beemer goes to Charlie Sheen, who made "winning" and "tiger blood" some of the year's top buzzwords, gave late-night comedians and tabloid gossipers plenty of material, became a Twitter sensation, and got fired from "Two and a Half Men."
(Runners-up: ironically, Charlie's replacement Ashton Kutcher comes in second, landing the "Two and a Half Men" gig, breaking up with Demi Moore, and making a big Twitter blunder. Other runners-up include Donald Trump and Kate Middleton).
Death of the Year
Osama Bin Laden
(Runners-up: Moammar Gadhafi, Kim Jong-Il, and, on a sadder note, Steve Jobs)
Politician of the Year
Gabrielle Giffords, not for the tragic shooting in January that nearly claimed her life, but for her courageous return to Congress in August in order to cast a key vote on the issue of raising the debt ceiling and helping to prevent a worse economic crisis.
(Runners-up: Herman Cain--because it's remarkable that he was at least temporarily a contender for the Republican nomination, Rick Perry--for blowing his shot at the nomination, and Paul Ryan--thanks to him, the Republican Party now stands for ending Medicare as we know it)
Activist of the Year
Asmaa Mahfouz for reasons described above (see Person of the Year)
(Runners-up: Yemeni human rights activist Tawakel Karman, journalist and provocateur Ian Murphy, Adbusters editor and Occupy Wall Street initiator Micah M. White. It's interesting to note that these four are all between 26 and 33 years old.)
Scientist or Innovator of the Year
Inbal Ben-Ami Martal, Jean Decety, and Peggy Mason for their study on empathy in rats.
Blogger of the Year
Egyptian undergraduate student Aliaa Magda Elmadhy, who has been charged with "violating morals, inciting indecency, and insulting Islam" for posting nude pictures of herself online. It's certainly debatable whether this was a wise choice, particularly since she comes from a region where women have been killed for immodesty. However, Aliaa should be congratulated for drawing the world's attention and striking a significant (if controversial) blow for women's liberation. She describes her blog as "screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy."
FAIL of the Year
There was some fierce competition in this category this year, with people from Anthony Weiner to Joe Paterno making the news for the wrong reasons. The winner is Thaddeus McCotter, Republican congressperson from Michigan, for thinking that he had a chance to become President, or at least that he could raise his stature by running. His campaign was so ineffective that most people still haven't heard of him, and those that have will never take him seriously again.
(Runners-up: fellow GOP hopefuls Herman Cain and Rick Perry, as well as Charlie Sheen)
Coming on December 31: Part 2 of the Beemer Awards, including prizes for Film of the Year, Book of the Year, Product of the Year, and the Beemer Peace Prize.