Rolling Stone magazine cover glorifies Boston bomber like a rock star.
July 18, 2013
By now you’ve seen the new cover of Rolling Stone magazine, featuring the photographic portrait of Boston bombing terrorist, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Look again. It’s not just a picture of the killer but a kind of brooding, sexy one. The kind this magazine has been putting on its covers for decades. He looks more like a member of Maroon 5 than a despicable murderer of innocent people. The indie scruff of beard. The Jim Morrison hair. Are those bedroom eyes?
My god, they’re treating him just like a rock star.
My jaw drops at the audacity of it. It’s like a bit out of Oliver Stone’s controversial film, Natural Born Killers, where two killers become celebrities. But that was satire. A statement about society’s fascination with fame, our gullibility for people with much charisma and zero morals. Fiction. Until now…
Of course, I’m not going to buy the magazine. Ergo, I’m not going to read the article. But I’ll guess what the editors were thinking: super provocative image equals scary amounts of buzz. Sigh. Is Rolling stone so hard up for relevancy it would stoop to glorifying a cowardly terrorist to move its product? Apparently.
I can hear the brave editor now: “We are an icon of the sub-culture. Our mission is to stir the pot. We start brave conversations about challenging topics.” Or maybe he points to Time magazine’s consideration of Osama Bin Laden for “Man of the Year.” Or the New Yorker’s controversial cover featuring Barack Obama fist pumping his gun-toting wife. There are other such examples.
But I say bullshit. Time ultimately did not choose Bin Laden, dismissing him as a “garden variety terrorist.” The New Yorker’s cover was, in my opinion, legitimate satire. I would also argue they have poetic license. By showing the right wing’s fantasy of the Obama’s they were demonstrating its ludicrousness.
The Rolling Stone cover is wrong. Calling it “too soon” is too small an accusation. It’s worse than that. Rolling Stone covers are iconic for one thing: glorifying rock stars and celebrities. While they have featured controversial figures before, this portrait crosses the line. Not because of who Tsarnaev is, or even for what he did, but because of the romantic way he is being portrayed.
They want to do a story on him, fine. But if they’re going to put him on the cover don’t portray him as a lovely man. He is anything but.