On Wednesday, Time magazine unveiled its "Person of the Year" cover for 2016. The honor this year goes to Mr. Donald Trump. The president-elect is pictured with a clever caption reading, "President of the Divided States of America." As Time notes, the title is not an endorsement: Trump was chosen for the cover because he is "the person deemed to have most influenced the year’s news, for better or worse." That sounds about right then. Soon after its unveiling, people took to Twitter to point out a funny feature of the cover: The positioning of the "m" in Time makes it appear like there are horns on Trump's head. "Donald Trump may have won Person of the Year, but Time wins Magazine of the Year for using the 'M' to give him devil horns," one user wrote. Clever, right?
Alas, this purported act of subversion was unintentional. Time responded quickly to clear up any notion that the move was purposeful by publishing a gallery of 35 other Time covers that appear to give the subject horns — including President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Okay, so that's cleared up.
But there's actually another layer of much more striking (if less obvious) symbolism to the Time cover. Several people have noted out that the photo of Trump is a mirror image of this 1941 Time cover featuring Adolf Hitler. The chair, the color palette, the distant gaze, the body positioning — could it be coincidental? "There is 0 chance Trump/Hitler echo on the Time cover was accidental. Too many details. Looking forward to Trump's tantrum when he realizes," somebody tweeted of the side-by-side comparison. Again, this may have been intentional or not. But the likeness is uncanny, no?
Hitler actually won the Time's Person of the Year title himself three years prior to the cover above. And he's certainly not the only maligned figure in history to snag the honor. Joseph Stalin was chosen in 1939, Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, and Vladimir Putin in 2007. Of course, beloved U.S. presidents and global leaders have received the award, too — the title is not "Most Awesome Person of the Year." Trump has truly dominated news coverage in (and outside of) the country this year — as Time puts it, for better or for worse.
But long as we're talking about what Time's designation really means, let's revisit a tweet from Trump himself circa 2013 about Time's list of the "100 Most Influential People." It's classic Trump: an insult with his signature, uh, sentence structure. "The Time Magazine list of the 100 Most Influential People is a joke and stunt of a magazine that will, like Newsweek, soon be dead. Bad list!" he wrote. We can only assume Trump took issue with the list because he wasn't on it. (Adding insult to injury: Trump's least favorite youth-corrupting music moguls, Jay Z and Beyoncé, made the list that year — Jay scored one of the covers.)
So horns and Hitler tie-ins or not, we have to wonder: Does Trump think his new Time-issued title is a joke and a stunt as well? We'll be standing by for his tweet about it.