Much Ado About Something – The Cover Story That No One Read

Somehow everyone forgot that this guy has been in the news for the last few months, on occasion.
Somehow everyone forgot that this guy has been in the news for the last few months, on occasion.

If you believe everything you read, then you might, at this point, believe that the editors (and the graphic designers) of Rolling Magazine are the devil incarnate.

Placing an image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of their latest issue has sparked a firestorm not seen since Kanye West grabbed a microphone from a young Taylor Swift, a gal with whom he happens to share a PR firm and record label. But enough about that particular bullshit, on to this particular bullshit.

Conspiracy theories about government involvement long forgotten, the somethingsphere has moved on to demonizing Rolling Stone for putting this man on the cover of their magazine in conjunction with a story about who he was, accounts of his personality from people who knew him, and the bitter reality of who he became.

Interestingly, most of the discussion around this cover story (and it is a cover *story* as well as a cover picture) happened before anyone even had a chance to read the article. I wonder how many people spinning around in outrage like dreidels spun in anger during Chanukkah because holy-shit-what-a-fucking-shitty-thing-to-get-instead-of-a-real-fucking-Christmas-present have even read it now.

What you’ll find is an insightful and frightening look into one of the Boston Marathon bombers — a kid who many just can not, for the life of them, believe could have been involved in something like this. A kid who made every effort to assimilate, was accepted by his peers (how many kids born on American soil can even say this?) and ended up becoming the very thing we stay awake at night watching Fox News worrying about.

Essentially, the argument is that if kids who read Rolling Stone (do kids actually read Rolling Stone anymore? I’d have thought their target demographic would be more 40 – 70-ish at this point) will idolize him. That they’ll want to emulate his actions to become famous. The claim is that the cover picture glorifies Tsarnaev, that it shows a glorified image of the person who would claim the lives and limbs of far too many people who could just as easily have been us.

Even Weird Al has pitched a hissy fit, tweeting that he has, apparently, been going about trying to get on the cover of Rolling Stone “the hard way.” Because no one before this person has gotten on the cover based on their infamy alone. I mean, come on. Britney Spears has been on the cover… how many times? Seven? Eight? And what the fuck did she ever do musically? She’s a stripper with a track that she can lip sync to on stage.

Well, here is a (non-definitive and entirely incomplete) list of some people that Rolling Stone magazine has placed on its cover to entice the young people of the world to be more like them.

Abbie Hoffman
Charles Manson
Tricia Nixon
Narc Agent Gerrit Van Raam
George McGovern
Crime Victim Dirk Dickenson
Jesus Freaks
Senator Sam Ervin
Daniel Ellsberg
Richard Nixon
P.O.W. Rick Springman
The Economy (for fuck sakes)
Evel Knievel
Patty Hearst
Jimmy Carter
Roman Polanski (AFTER the “incident”)
Sean Connery (He may not be relevant here, but it does remind me that I moustache you a question, but I’m shaving it for later)
Bill Clinton (BEFORE the “incident”)
Bill Clinton (AFTER the “incident”)
and on and on for another 20 years

It would appear as though Rolling Stone wants the youth of America to be… well, it’s a bit confusing, isn’t it? Maybe a murderous Christian with an aim for political power who jumps motorcycles over canyons, lusts after women (and girls) and suffers from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome.

If we think that each and every one of these people had an aim towards becoming famous via a magazine (clearly, many of those in this list were after as much infamy as they could get, but MY GOD, what about the children who may want to become saxophone-playing philanderers who are smarter than just about fucking everyone they’ll ever meet in their entire lives??!!!!), then we’re probably going to need to go to our room and think about what we’ve done.

The real problem appears to be that they put a picture on the cover of a magazine that shows the man-become-monster as he actually once was.

His face is not irrelevant to the issues, no matter how much you may want that to be the case. This is the face of a human man. You may not like that he once looked the way he did, but it may just expose the fact that you prefer your villains to be more stereotypical for your mind to be able to grasp the implications of the acts committed by the person in question. You may prefer a long beard or turban or some other identifying feature that would label the person as “foreign” and therefore “dangerous.”

And do you really believe that someone will commit an act of this sort in an attempt to obtain the kind of infamy that comes with being on the cover of Rolling Stone? Do you really — I mean REALLY — believe that this cover photo is the thing that is going to push someone over the edge? Is this actually the first time we’re hearing about this guy. He was non-stop, 24-hour news for days and weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing.

This is not even the first time this image has been used in the press.

Rolling Stone is, and always has been, a magazine that goes after the issues of the day. It is, at its heart, quite obviously, a music magazine. It’s also more than that, and has had its pages graced by some of the most eloquent political writing ever accomplished. Make no mistake, what’s been done in that magazine is an accomplishment.

Dismissing this individual as nothing more than a monster smacks of nothing short of intellectual laziness, and in no way allows us, as a society, to look more closely at the issues that caused this act, and how a — by all accounts — a sweet, kind, friendly kid ended up causing so much pain and sorrow.

Dismissing Rolling Stone as an irrelevant, washed-up rag with hopes of days gone by is forgivable because, let’s face it, it is. But in this particular instance, it would seem that contempt prior to investigation would not only be unwise, but a thing that one might want to keep from doing in order to keep from looking like a complete fucking idiot.

Go ahead and read the article. If you still disagree, I’m willing to listen to what you have to say.

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