Rock tragics of a certain age will remember the cover of Uriah Heep’s 1971 album Look At Yourself. It’s a mirror. It’s reflective.

“Look At Yourself”. Geddit? Yup. It’s a real Spinal Tap moment. A Spinal Tap moment that the onetime giant of newsmagazines, Henry Luce’s Time magazine  has decided to revive.

Old media is getting desperate. Very desperate indeed. Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006 is You. And on the front cover they’ve put a mirror so you can see your reflection. Just like Uriah Heep did. A generation ago.

Uriah Heep were always really a joke. You couldn’t take a band that called their debut “Very ‘eavy, very ‘umble” seriously. Time magazine, however, is something different. Or was.

Now, they’re desperate to keep up. Pathetically so. “Person of the Year: You. Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world,” they say.

The “Great Man” theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”. He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

Don’t they just know it. You almost feel sorry for them – and their dinosaur cousins down under. So sorry, in fact, that you’ve got to give them something to cheer them up.

Here’s the good news for the Spinal Taps of the media world. You can’t do reflective thingies that act as mirrors on monitors so online readers can see their reflections. Yet…

Peter Fray

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