I’ve been reading super cool Rolling Stone for more than 30 years. It’s hip. It’s smart. And its articles are well-researched and beautifully written.
But they did something so UNCOOL this month, that it will be hard to forgive them. They put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Rolling Stoooooooooone.” Sing it Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show (hey, did you know that the kid’s author, who I loved, loved, loved, Shel Silverstein wrote this song–wild, huh?) Anyway, I am sort of shocked that they would pull this kind of attention-seeking move. I understand that the internet is making newspapers and magazines work for their readership and that pretty soon they won’t be able to survive. This is a sad, but true reality. And although my computer and phone have become like an appendage that gives me information, I still respect hard copy, the flipping of pages, the feel in my hands of a good magazine or paper.
But let’s get back to this decision to put a kid who masterminded a plot to kill people at the beloved Boston Marathon, a Massachusetts institution, and succeeded in murdering, and maiming hundreds, deeply scarring thousands, and shutting down an entire city. Let’s talk about why you would ever put this kid’s photo on the cover of a magazine known for featuring rock stars and actors. There’s loads of controversy all over the internet, but I fall on the side of it being wrong. Yes, we have free speech, so technically, legally, it’s the magazine’s choice. But what does it mean? It means that Rolling Stone decided to get themselves some buzz by putting Tsarnaev’s photo on the cover. Some say that the photo depicts innocence and that the article is all about how he went from a seemingly normal kid to a terrorist. But, why not put the photo opposite the article, on the inside of the magazine, if you’re trying to show the dichotomy. I respect that they did an article on the subject. I have no issue with that, and probably would have been really interested in reading it, if they hadn’t pulled this publicity stunt. I could think of 10 eye catching ways to make that cover depict “the making of a terrorist” theme. Why give someone who committed such a hideous crime celebrity status? Why, because everybody is talking about Rolling Stone, and that’s exactly what they were aiming for. I think it’s gross, and I would have thought it beneath a well respected magazine like Rolling Stone.
Today I’m grateful for CVS and Tedeschi Food Shops who pulled this issue. Tsarnaev’s crime was despicable and will effect the victim’s forever. Rolling Stone has every right to publish a story about this kid and his road to becoming a monster, but they’ve done more than that, they’ve made him a celebrity.