On the Cover of the Rolling Stone


This thing with the cover of the Rolling Stone is more in the vein of the Society of Propriety notions that I dealt with the other day.

I was mostly going to avoid the topic, then I was popping around Facebook… it is all over the place. Even Channing Tatum had posted “covers of RS the way they should have been” with survivors of the bombing.

The Boston Marathan bombing was horrible. But as William Rivers Pitt suggests in the article I am linking to here, the reactions to this cover take energy from other more pressing and substantial issues. And all out of a sense of impropriety. As I told Mr. Tatum, who I am convinced will read my words (yeah right!)…

I don’t know Channing. I would have thought that as a celebrity, you would know the difference between a magazine like People or US and one like Rolling Stone. RS does its share of fluff about celebrities and musicians. But it has also been a great resource for learning about aspects of politics and terrorism. Certainly, magazines like Rolling Stone and Esquire have published harder hitting critiques and stories than many newspapers and news magazines.

This cover does not glorify that young man. It shows that the face of those who can fall into the grip of such hateful thinking can sometimes be not that terrifying looking. It reminds us that a good looking kid can very well go astray until he is too far off track to turn back. It reminds us that a youth who ends up hurting many people could look a lot like you or any of your handsome young Hollywood friends.

In the real world, the bad guys do not start out ugly or dirty. They do not look stereotypically other. Nor do they become crazed after a horrible accident that disfigures them and makes them easily seen as a monster when they walk around among us.

Now below, I post the picture. It is not the cover of the Rolling Stone. It is the exact same picture as it appeared on the cover of almost every newspaper around the world–again and again and again. This is the face of a youth who lost his way, allowed himself to be swayed by a radical brother, and got too far off track to stop. He is handsome. He even looks innocent. Quite frankly, he looks less harmful than George Zimmerman. But apparently, he is a terrorist.

I awoke on Wednesday morning to the outrage du jour: Dzhohkar Tsarnaev on the cover of the newest Rolling Stone looking like Jim Morrison’s little brother after a fight with a Flowbee. As someone from Boston who was personally affected by the Marathon bombing, I am apparently supposed to be all up in arms about this. It glorifies a murderer as if he were a celebrity or a rock star, they should have run a cover with the victims instead, and so forth.

via On the Cover of the Rolling Stone.

News photo distributed by New York Times and other organizations.

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