Why Rolling Stone is BS for Publishing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its Cover

7/18/2013 7:00 AM PDT, by

0717_fish_bomber
Here it is, guys -- this is the Rolling Stone cover that's caused so much controversy over the last day or so, and now you probably know why: that dude up there? That's Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the freaks charged with the horror that unfolded at the Boston Marathon a few months back. You probably already recognized him, but didn't realize that he was this international superstar heartthrob capable of making women swoon and garnering the cover of a prolific magazine like Rolling Stone and, oh, blowing people to bits and pieces while they innocently enjoyed a day of running in the sunshine. 

Despite RS's protestations that they're just "doing their jobs," it's got "wrong" written all over it. Their statement:

"... The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's longstanding commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage. ... The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens."

No, friends. No. There is no "displaced anger" over a Rolling Stone cover, because any anger directed at this cover is entirely justifiable. It's not that someone charged with terrorism and murder and everything else took the cover of a magazine, it's that the editors of Rolling Stone had the indubitable poor taste to choose and run a photo that makes this kid look like some kind of warped second coming of Jim Morrison, all artsy and misunderstood. And the wording? "Popular," "promising," used next to adjectives that would insinuate that he wasn't at fault for what he allegedly did? LIke how his family "failed" him and how he just accidentally "fell" into radical Islam and somehow became this monster? Bull-effing-crap, Rolling Stone. 

DO BETTER.

Rolling Stone's Cover -- OK or Not So Much?

  • It's fine. Stop.
  • Awful! WTF!?
 
Filed Under:  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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Comments

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joules
471 days ago

No, I think it's the article too. I tried to read it online and it's pretty much shit.

Laurel
471 days ago

I understand why RS wants to do this article, but I did they really HAVE to put him on the cover? We need to stop giving these fame-craving martyrs the exact type of attention they crave. Put the Coach on the cover, an aftermath shot, a survivor...ANYONE but this monster.

I have to say I DO agree w/ CVS and Walgreens refusal to carry this issue. Yes, RS has a 1st amendment right to publish it, but CVS & Walgreens also have the right not to sell it. And RS, rethink releasing this w/ its current cover. Let's not give those "rebels" the bros left behind anything to frame, hang on their walls, and justify the "righteousness" of their cause.

Rachael Martin
471 days ago

I absolutely agree. It is not necessarily the fact that he is on the cover, it is the way they have portrayed him. Not only the comments, as said in the article on the TMZ website, but the picture. He is wearing an ARMANI EXCHANGE T-shirt!! What kind of adult, no, person, knowing what he is accused of and how severe the outcome was for the victims, would put a picture of him on the cover that would glamorize him and expect no repercussions? I don't think anyone has the answer except RS. Who as i understand at this point is completely standing by their decision to do so.

Gigi
471 days ago

Thank you for stating the fact. It's not that he's on the cover, it's that they made him look like a freaking rock star...

1 Reply
Jill Nick
471 days ago

RS can print whatever picture they want but I think their choice was in poor taste. There were other pictures, like him walking away from setting the bomb but whatever. I want to read the article, so I will tear the cover off and burn it!

Specter1075
471 days ago

While I am in no way justifying Rolling Stone's decision, does it not seem obvious at this point that their desire was to cause the furor that we now see? They knew the picture would be controversial, and they likewise knew that Rolling Stone would be a topic of conversation. This can only help their sales, boycott or not.

ghost
471 days ago

Instead of looking like a deranged terrorist who killed innocent people, he looks like a sultry, pouty, boy band singer.... Awful. Shame on RS.

Webster
471 days ago

Rolling Stone can put all the pretty pictures and write all the stories about this guy they want but what I will remember about him is the film of him and his brother placing their backpacks down and blowing up and killing a 8 year old boy and other innocent people trying to live their lives.

Sean MacNair
471 days ago

You guys print all kinds of stuff that could at best be described as "bullsh*t", and you're actually offended by this Rolling Stone cover? Yet you published it on your website anyway. Hypocrisy. Next time you print something and someone wants you to remove it, and you hide behind the First Amendment, I will direct you back to this incident.

Tim
471 days ago

Sarah, calm down. Many murders have been on the cover of magazines. There's nothing wrong with trying to understand the mind of a killer. You're "angry" journalistic style on this topic is childish. Stop being so short sighted. No matter what horrible acts a person has done, they still have a story. If you disagree, perhaps you should talk to The History Channel about their Hitler fetish.

1 Reply
Mary
471 days ago

A friend of mine is totally okay with the cover, that people are blowing this out of proportion, and that we should all just calm down, this isn't the first murderer to grace the cover of RS. Um, so? It doesn't make it right. If this dufus IS going to be on the cover, show him in his prison cell eating mice and Ramen. Show that THAT'S what happens to people who break the law and murder fellow human beings.

1 Reply
Justin
471 days ago

He reminds me of the lead singer from Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig.

darling.cruella
471 days ago

But if it was TIME magazine you wouldnt bat an eye. You would almost expect a report like this in TIME, its because its on RS that makes it more prolific. But why? Because you expected to see Rhianna or some other big name celeb? RS also did an article on Charles Manson decades ago, so effing what? This is journalism ladies, though you woudnt know it if it bit you in the ass. Rolling Stone did exactly what every one else is scared to ask- WHO IS THIS MAN? Whether we like it or not, this man has changed many lives of Americans and how we view radicalism. So in context, I think theyre in the right. As a writer you want this type of exposure- its what the jobs all about; facing challenges that others wont take on in order to get the story across. Regardless of what the article contains, someone had to do their job.

1 Reply
Newsgal
470 days ago

Nicely written, Sarah. You put your finger on it. I think this is the best post I've seen since Fishwrapper started. Not a single "you guys" or "seriously?" In it, just a great, eloquent post that hit the nail on the head. Thanks.

Betty
470 days ago

I am not saying I agree with the cover in anyway, I only wonder if people would feel differently if he was on the cover of a magazine such as TIME.

Newsgal
470 days ago

I see what people are saying here about Rolling Stone's desire to do a story---it may be that it's just too soon. If I had just lost a limb in the bombing, I certainly would not be ready to see the bomber's face every time I went to buy something. We can examine the story without making him look like a pretty boy on the cover. I think people just feel that at this stage we should still be focusing on the people who were the victims, and this cover might be very unsettling to those trying to heal.

Bohomoth
470 days ago

Well said. Utter complete bullshit and a tawdry grab for sales during the quiet summer period.

Irishae
470 days ago

Get a grip. The picture of him on the cover is just that--I don't see an Annie Leibovitz photo credit, no insinuations that his album was one of the top 10 of the year, and I really don't think he's promoting any movies right now. We would all feel more comfortable if he had a long beard, a turban on his head, and flaming eyeballs of death, but surprise, terrorists can look like you and I! They may have even had famillies, a job, gone to school. Sad, but true. I guess no one has ever heard of the Taliban either.

Irishae
470 days ago

Get a grip. The picture of him on the cover is just that--I don't see an Annie Leibovitz photo credit, no insinuations that his album was one of the top 10 of the year, and I really don't think he's promoting any movies right now. We would all feel more comfortable if he had a long beard, a turban on his head, and flaming eyeballs of death, but surprise, terrorists can look like you and I! They may have even had famillies, a job, gone to school. Shocker. I guess no one has ever heard of the Taliban either.

bfattiffanys
470 days ago

A really good point made in a previous comment by Irishae. It's not likely that RS was trying to glorify Dzhokhar or what he did, but the image and word choice are a story in and of themselves. This is not what most people would think of as the "typical" terrorist. He WAS a popular and smart kid. Perhaps the point they are trying to make with this is that -- a terrorist could be anybody, even the leader of a boy band as so many see him portrayed in this image. If, in a crazy world, it turned out that a member of One Direction or The Wanted were to lose his way and be responsible for a vile act, what image do you imagine ANY media outlet would use? Probably one in which they look pretty. And would we be surprised or upset by that? As uncomfortable as this cover may be, it addresses what people want to know and that is: who was this guy? Getting our panties up in a bunch over this photo shows that we've completely missed the point and are allowing ourselves to be too easily offended, preventing productive dialogue.

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