Ai Weiwei with cat and art
Ai Weiwei is in the running for Time’s Person of the Year, alongside contenders like the Mars Rover, various politicians, Jon Stewart, and Pussy Riot.

Time magazine this week announced the contenders for its 2012 Person of the Year, and we’re very happy to see that Ai Weiwei, subject of our upcoming film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, is in the running. As China’s most famous living artist and notorious political dissident, we think he richly deserves a crack at this coveted designation.

As always with this list, this year’s 38 nominees come from all over the globe, and include a very wide range of people, one concept (Undocumented Workers), and one thing (the Mars Rover). While it’s up to the magazine’s editors to choose the Person of the Year, your preference won’t be ignored. Time has opened voting for the people’s choice award. Cast your vote by 11:59 December 12!

But how do you go about deciding who you’d like to see as Person of the Year?  You can rule some out right away, depending on how you feel about various issues and politicians. Chances are that you would not be torn between voting for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, for instance.

But if you’re big on entertainment, how do you narrow down the field? I mean, I love South Korean pop sensation PSY and his Gangnam Style as much as the other 900 million viewers they’ve had on YouTube, but would I vote for him as Person of the Year? It depends on how hard a day I’ve had at work.

psy in gangham style video
PSY: Person of the Year material?

If you’re going for musicians with a cause, Pussy Riot might be a better vote. Like a little bondage in your literature? Then Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James’s Vote button might be worth a click/smack.

I found myself eyeing several contenders for my vote today. As I was thinking about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot by Taliban extremists because of her equal rights beliefs, I noticed Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on the list. Try as I might to ignore them, I couldn’t. My personal biases — very superficial, as it turns out — were getting in the way.

My bias for Colbert is because he is highly entertaining and went to my alma mater (Northwestern University). My bias for Jon Stewart is also because he is highly entertaining, but I have a reason beyond that: Jon Stewart had me as a guest on The Daily Show earlier this year to talk about my book Soldier Dogs. It was a huge amount of fun, and did wonders for the book, helping land it on the New York Times Best Seller List. So Jon is kind of my personal person of the year.

jon stewart and maria goodavage on the set of the Daily Show
Jon Stewart and me, both looking rather snockered on the set of The Daily Show. Trust me: It’s hard not to vote for the guy who helped get you on the New York Times Best Seller List.

But is this why I should cast my vote? Don’t others have much deeper causes I should support with my ballot? Yes, they do. But I’m only human.

Fortunately, I’ve just discovered that you can vote more than once in this Time poll. So my soul-searching will end right now. Stewart gets my vote today, Ai Weiwei another day, Malala Yousafzai for sure, and if I have a really tough day at the office, I might even click on PSY.

Who would you vote for on the list, and why? Do you put people with causes before entertainers? Mars Rovers before politicians?