The Cover of the Rolling Stone
But the thrill we've never known
Is the thrill that'll get ya when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone."- COVER OF THE ROLLING STONE lyrics by Shel Silverstein.
The cover of the Rolling Stone. You have arrived on the music scene. The nation will know you now. It is what you've always dreamed of. The song above says it right there. You've now got the biggest music critics in your corner. You must now deal with the upside of fame along with the perils that come along with it. Welcome to the 70's.
Over time, Rolling Stone has remained a respected magazine while expanding their horizons to cover all issues of culture. Now, I'm sure this has always been the case (as Charles Manson once graced the cover), but it seems to have jumped to the forefront over the years. Stories of night club owners, drug smugglers, politics, and wars have graced the issues of said publication. While I'm quite sure it is still a penultimate achievement to land a Rolling Stone cover, it by no means makes or breaks a band. With changing times and changing media formats, of course a leading publication in America is going to adapt and change with the times.
Which, of course, brings us to the present day. The upcoming issue of Rolling Stone features the surviving Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on the cover. This has caused a swirling controversy that I believe shouldn't even be a controversy at all. Are we glorifying this young man that committed these horrible crimes or is it simply a magazine that is looking to sell copies of a magazine with a truly interesting story?
To me, the idea of that Rolling Stone magazine is glorifying Tsarnaev is ridiculous. It is all over the picture they used on the cover, not about the article or anything that comes along with it. The photo that is used is one of few that people actually have of Tsarnaev. People say, "Well, they could have used a picture of the heroes or the survivors." Yes, they could have. They could have done that very thing if the article was in fact about the heroes, the survivors, or the fallen. There have been plenty of stories on those people and probably will be countless more, which is a good thing. That's what should be focused on.
People seem to be upset over a photo on the cover of a music magazine. A music magazine that is attempting to, yes, sell copies, but also take a closer look (perhaps) inside the brain and psyche of this man. I have not read the article (waiting to buy the issue, if anywhere will sell it) so I cannot speak what it will fully be about. This is about the cover and what one can deduce from the cover itself.
Glorification. That's what a cover is about, yes? I will admit, upon first glance at he cover, it did appear to be a young rocker ready to take the world by storm. Let's look at the headline itself and see what we can deduce from it. "The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student was Failed by Family, Fell into Radical Islam, and Became a Monster." It's all right in the final sentence: How he became a monster. That's not glorifying, to me. That's telling us, the consumer, exactly what this article believes he is. I would say most people that are up in arms over this don't buy the magazine anyhow. (I don't have scientific numbers on this, but it's just an educated guess.) People are so focused on this photo that they might not be taking the time to look at the heading that comes along with the photo. Or see the photo and are like "Oh, look at that, Willie Nelson. He smokes pot." The New York Times used the same photo months ago. This wouldn't even be an issue if TIME ran this photo and wrote this article. It's all because ROLLING STONE is supposed to deal with music and only music. If that's the case, I don't want to see any more music reviews in TIME.
I get it, I really do. Tsarnaev has done a horrible wrong. Wasn't it just days after the fact that we wanted to attach a face to these crimes? Now, we don't want to see the face ever again unless it's bloodied and battered. People might look at this and say, "It's all about selling copies and turning this guy into a rock star." Yes, I can say a good business model for a magazine company to sell copies of their magazine. Let's take a step back, though, and maybe, just maybe, Rolling Stone wanted to possibly give the public some insight on why this young committed this unspeakable crime. In fact, for days after the tragedy, the one question on everyone's mind was, "why?". Here were are, presumably presented with answers, and we decide to rail against it. He's on the cover. Sell the magazine. Keep it on shelves. Or next time the question "why" is asked, no one may decide to do the research necessary to find that answer. And to me, that is the real shame in all of this.