Rolling Stone the magazine, not the iconic rock group, has released their new cover photo. Many people were outraged when they saw the person who was featured on it. We are not talking Lady Gaga in humus instead of meat, or Madonna without Photoshop, or even Justin Bieber; they have actually given the cover to Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The photo is not critical nor does it show him as the alleged bomber, on the contrary, he is portrayed as a dreamy artist not unlike Jim Morrison, Dylan etc.
Apart from the internet exploding in outrage many in public have spoken out against using this cover. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick claimed that the cover was “Out of Taste,” CVS have gone as far as to ban the magazine issue altogether. They stated: “out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones.” Did Rolling Stone magazine give the alleged Boston Bomber the cover photo spot just for profit? Or do they have other motivations?
There are those that claim attacks against Rolling Stone is limiting freedom of speech. In addition, the New York Times ran the alleged bomber’s photo on their front page and nobody was outraged by their choice to exploit Mr. Tsarnaev. Now that Rolling Stone thinks it’s a good idea, suddenly everybody’s up in arms.
Rolling Stone magazine has recently been called, ” Tasteless,” “Trashy,” even “exploitative.” Erik Wemple of the Washington Post agrees with those statements, however, he also wanted us to think deeper. He says that Rolling Stone magazine has actually pointed out a glaring truth which people are uncomfortable with. Most criminals, alleged or otherwise, are not ugly, scary, unsophisticated people. Arguably, it’s quite the opposite. Name one neighbor of any criminal on TV who said: “Yes, he/she was indeed creepy, I always thought he/she was an ax murderer. The same goes for terrorists. This is the point Rolling Stone is making. Wemple adds; “What did we expect to see in Tsarnaev? What did we hope to see?” We probably expected a devilish looking man, maybe without the horns, but definitely with the evil glint in his eyes. As an alternative we get a person who looks like the boy next door, a man we might know from somewhere nice. Rolling Stone did us all a service by placing the alleged Boston Bomber’s photo on their cover. Portraying him just like an artist served their purpose, didn’t it?
If you would look past the offensive photo, it is apparent that the article about the alleged bomber is very well written and a great in-depth story. Janet Reitman did a two-month investigative report on the man. She followed his transformation from being a nice student, liked by others, to a person who was likely involved with a radical wing of Islam.
Time magazine did something similar with the Columbine shooters. They asked the question: “What made them do it?” The same goes for the alleged Boston bomber, why did he truly do it and are there any signs/ways to prevent something like this from happening in the future.
What do you think? Did Rolling Stone go to far this time by using the alleged Boston Bomber just like an artist cover photo? Or do you think that all these magazines and news outlets are exploiting people? Or might it just be that there is a point to the article. Perhaps it might help us to become aware of what kind of world we live in today. Let us know by your comments.
By Georgina Pijttersen