Rock Star Terrorist
July 17, 2013 11:46 AM   Subscribe

The cover of the Rolling Stone has been a cultural touchstone for a long time. Now, the dreamy, tape-it-to-the-bedroom-wall worthy image of terrorist eye-candy, Jahar Tsarnaev, rocks the magazine's legendary cover real estate. Teenage girls swoon, others fret.
posted by thinkpiece (227 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thing is, it says right on the cover that they are telling you how tsarnev became "a monster". This isn't a laudatory cover at ALL.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:50 AM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


Rolling Stone just wants to be talked about.

And here we are.
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on July 17, 2013 [40 favorites]


Previously
posted by ckape at 11:52 AM on July 17, 2013


I honestly can't understand the controversy to save my life. Why wouldn't Rolling Stone have a cover story about the Boston bomber(s)?
posted by koavf at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [15 favorites]




This is neither here nor there vis-a-vis the meat of this post but:

Rolling Stone covers don't mean much to me since they switched to the boring standard magazine size. One of the tragedies of modern publishing.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


People lost their legs because of what this person did. A beautiful child died.

Fuck literally everything about this.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


There should be a law that you can only publish ugly photos of people whom I dislike.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:55 AM on July 17, 2013 [58 favorites]


This seems to fit in pretty well with Rolling Stone's tradition of doing "proper" journalism alongside pop culture. Maybe the reading public was more grown up about these things in the past.

Sometimes I think that if Hunter S Thompson were beginning his career today, he'd stand a good chance of being lynched.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


you can only publish ugly photos of people whom I dislike.

I think you'd better be more specific.
posted by yerfatma at 11:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think some of the outrage is similar to Time Magazine putting Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold on the cover of that magazine. A big part of what these guys wanted was notoriety and now Tsarnaev can point to the cover of Rolling Stone and say, "see, I made it." Not saying I agree with this interpretation but I'm trying to understand.
posted by mattbucher at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Predictably, people who haven't purchased Rolling Stone for twenty years, if ever, are frantically boycotting the magazine all over my Facebook feed.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [44 favorites]


I think you'd better be more specific.

Hitler: high-school acne photos

Bryan Adams: wearing ugly sweater from his grandma

Mitt Romney: red eye

Roger Clemens: drunk squint
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


The most shocking thing is people still buy Rolling Stone at newsstands.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


My brain can't help but think of Tsarnaev as a 21st century Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky.

I realize it's probably not an accurate comparison.
posted by TheRedArmy at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2013


FINALLY a reason to comment about an article without reading it!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


"too pretty to be guilty"

I am waiting for "The 20th C's Dreamiest Genocidal Leaders."
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:05 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why wouldn't Rolling Stone have a cover story about the Boston bomber(s)?


Very well phrased question. Had you used the word "shouldn't," or suffixed it with "in this way," I think we could come up with plenty of answers.

But instead, we've got a "dreamy photo" of a total piece of shit, promising all sorts of in depth stories about what makes him tick (errr, no pun intended) with a clear agenda of pandering to his idiotic fanbase, and it's like...

Yeah, why wouldn't they do that?

Scruples? Hah!
posted by ShutterBun at 12:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm stealing this from somewhere, but if Time published this exact same cover, nobody would care - and not just because nobody reads Time. There's an assumption that anybody on the cover of Rolling Stone is the subject of a fawning personality piece, which...is not entirely unjustified, even in the case of their non-music reporting. But not the case here.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


with a clear agenda of pandering to his idiotic fanbase

How so?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:10 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think much of the backlash is due to people not realizing Rolling Stone very often contains real journalism.
posted by davebush at 12:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [39 favorites]


There's an assumption that anybody on the cover of Rolling Stone is the subject of a fawning personality piece, which...is not entirely unjustified. But not the case here.

I wonder how the outrage/apathy breaks down between people who have read Rolling Stone and those who haven't. I really don't see what the big deal is, but then again I've never actually read the magazine and I only know of it through the various investigative journalism pieces they've done that have been linked around the Internets.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:13 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Serious magazines need to stop putting dreamy images of genocidal madmen on their covers.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:13 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Charles Pierce : The Tsarnaev Cover
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. 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.THE EDITORS
posted by macadamiaranch at 12:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Comment removed. If you find yourself predicting that you're going to start a shitstorm, that's the cue to just close the tab and go do something else, not hit post.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Today, I learned that they still publish Rolling Stone. Who knew?
posted by .kobayashi. at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do wonder if the editors can back up their claim that a lot of people Tsarnaev's age still read the magazine.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


All these people are mad at Rolling Stone over their Dzhokhar cover, but their options were quite limited considering how dreamy he is.
posted by andoatnp at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2013


Serious magazines need to stop putting dreamy images of genocidal madmen on their covers.

damn, I thought you were gonna bust this guy, and i was gonna say haiseewhatyoudidthere.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on July 17, 2013


The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers

Daaamn, Tsarnaev looks good for 46.
posted by Cosine at 12:22 PM on July 17, 2013 [43 favorites]


with a clear agenda of pandering to his idiotic fanbase

ANOTHER Adam Sandler cover?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]




The comparison to the Time cover of McVeigh is a good one, but the context is totally different. If Rolling Stone asked "Should He Die?" people would not be as offended b/c GRAR VENGEANCE ... er boston pride!

I had no idea he was 46.

My housemates have always subscribed to it for some reason. For reference, they are 25 and 28 now (though they have probably subscribed for years.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:23 PM on July 17, 2013


Some have argued that the softly lit self shot only glamorizes Tsarnaev's acts and that it will only fuel his small but devoted group of sympathizers.

I'm calling it, guys. 2013 marks the first year of the War on Soft Lighting.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:23 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's interesting.

People who do bad things don't always look stereotypically "bad" or "evil". He is an attractive guy.

It's like what comes up rape threads a lot - it's not usually a stranger in the bushes, but some guy you know.

Same with this. He does not look any different than the high school kids I see when I walk home from work. There's not a sign above him or any of them saying "danger danger".

It makes me want to read the article more than if it was a sensational pic of him in handcuffs. This pic tells me the article is about him and how he ended up doing what he did, not necessarily focusing on the deed and subsequent chase and arrest.
posted by sio42 at 12:26 PM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


If Rolling Stone asked "Should He Die?" people would not be as offended b/c GRAR VENGEANCE ... er boston pride!

It does call him a "monster."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do wonder if the editors can back up their claim that a lot of people Tsarnaev's age still read the magazine.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:20 PM on July 17


Considering that the last time I "subscribed" it was because of an unsolicited free subscription when I bought some concert tickets through Ticketmaster, yeah, they may have a few younger "subscribers"
posted by Gungho at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, it's a think piece about a mid-level terrorist struggling with his own limitations in the harsh face of stardom.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:28 PM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


Thing is, it says right on the cover that they are telling you how tsarnev became "a monster". This isn't a laudatory cover at ALL.

You're expecting Americans to be even slightly nuanced in their thinking. Or, you know, to actually read.

There's a not-insignificant portion of the populace for whom putting this guy's picture on the cover of RS is the same as promoting and idolizing the guy. 'Cause, hey, that's the same cover Taylor Swift was on!!! And, because FOX News will tell them that it's terrible and RS is a liberal rag and maybe 7-11 should stop carrying the rag and TERRRORISTARECOMING!!!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 12:28 PM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I totally realize that Rolling Stone often contains real journalism. I have no problems with the piece, or even so much with putting him on the cover.

I have a massive problem with the...'tone' of the photo (for want of a better word; sorry, it's 3am here). There's something very Jim Morrison-esque about it. The pose, the curly locks over the forehead, the little pouty lips. He looks faintly bewildered, innocent yet still sultry. I think Rolling Stone chose this photo for just that effect. And now we have teenage girls with fucking dopey-eyed selfies on Instagram glorifying this piece of shit.

Sure, put a picture of him on there. But how about one of him looking like a sweaty, distorted, hunted animal when he was captured? That photo must exist, right? Or heck, what about just one of him looking like something other than, you know, a fucking rock god?

Even better, put the photo of that beautiful little toothy, scrawny, shiny-eyed, precious 8-year-old boy on there. Glorify his image.

I understand the whole juxtaposition-of-physical-beauty-and-inner-monstrosity thing that they were going for. I really do. But this is a step too far.

Fucking disgusting.
posted by Salamander at 12:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


What I'm curious about is the source of the GRAR. One presumes it's one of the usual suspect operators that's responsible for this, which stinks of an effort to discredit Rolling Stone as a source entirely.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


As with everything related to Rolling Stone, it was better when I was a kid. We certainly had better cover controversies. Rolling Stone wouldn't put a hip-hop or rap act on the cover. Maybe because, as of the 80s(!) Rolling Stone still hadn't put a Black person on the cover! And then we had Ice-T with Body Count and "Cop Killer" not to mention just the out-and-out awesomeness of Public Enemy. Totally ironic that Ice-T's cover was him dressed as a cop, which is what he does professionally these days.

So, um, on topic? Print media are circling the drain and one of them does something to attract attention, readers and maybe a brief boost in circulation? You don't say. I suppose the next thing you'll tell me is that Mefites can overthink a plate of beans.
posted by aureliobuendia at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think a big part of the problem people have with this is not that he's on the cover, it's that the picture used is not one used to demonize him. Typically when a publication has a picture of a 'bad person' they use as awful as a picture as they can find.

Sometimes this isn't controversial - mass murderers, accused criminals, etc... Other times it is evident that the newspaper/publication has a partisan political agenda... In this case it is someone who is hated by everyone, but the picture isn't demonizing him - it's a picture of him looking like a 'normal'/'nice' person.

Even though the text in the story isn't positive (ie: the word 'monster' is used), the visual narrative doesn't fit with our expectations of portrayals of bad guys.

(the Hitler picture in Time magazine isn't an appropriate example of this because a) it was in a different era of journalism and b) it was a cover from 1933 - before he became known as a genocidal monster).
posted by el io at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is totally manufactured outrage. This same photo ran on the cover of the New York Times months ago. Don't give in to media created hysteria about a photo with context written in large font right over top of it.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2013 [40 favorites]


The irony — in the midst of this absolutely concocted festival of outrage based on basic misunderstandings about journalism — is that there is something wrong with the cover: it calls him "the bomber" before a court has reached any such verdict.

(And even if you think that's defensible, you have to admit that it proves that RS's intent here was to contrast the "innocent" feel of the photo with the horror of what he is accused of doing.)
posted by oliverburkeman at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Serious magazines need to stop putting dreamy images of genocidal madmen on their covers.

You mean like this?
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


CVS, Walgreen's and Tedeschi are all boycotting the sale of Rolling Stone.

sorry, tried to find a non-awful link but they are all so awful
posted by mrgrimm at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2013


If this is the type of media story that gets people outraged, then we as Americans deserve the shitty media we have.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:37 PM on July 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


I have a massive problem with the...'tone' of the photo (for want of a better word; sorry, it's 3am here). There's something very Jim Morrison-esque about it.

This makes no sense. The dude looked like he looked.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:37 PM on July 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


with a clear agenda of pandering to his idiotic fanbase

How so?


The photo choice, first and foremost. Along with that, I have some issues with the cover text and its implications. By calling it "The Bomber," they've made it about him. (and perhaps made it too easy to do some creative cutting and create a pinup calling him "The Bomb."

They mention that "his family failed him," further deflecting guilt. They call him a "monster," which lends further mystique to him as an individual, and makes it easier to see him as a "larger than life" figure, and less of a fuck up.

He's not a monster. Monsters can't help themselves. He's a loser who decided to help blow some people up.

When they put Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover of Life, it was him holding the murder weapon(s) and communist newspapers, not a photo of him bouncing his daughters on his knee, talking about how "capitalism failed this bright family man."
posted by ShutterBun at 12:38 PM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Didn't they do a cover of Manson back in the day? With similar condemnations of the man?
posted by jonmc at 12:38 PM on July 17, 2013


This is just silly. It's just a picture of him. They didn't photoshop him into a fancy outfit or anything. He just looks like that. I could understand if the outrage was based upon an argument against putting a terrorist on a magazine cover, but it isn't - the outrage is because he's good-looking. That's not Rolling Stone's fault. Not all terrorists are physically repugnant.
posted by something something at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]




further deflecting guilt

The cover text convicts him. Maybe you think that's fine, but how you can read it as exonerating him just completely baffles me.
posted by oliverburkeman at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess my whole problem with it is that I think we shouldn't give these assholes any more notoriety than is absolutely necessary.

I mean, when someone streaks across a baseball field or otherwise does something idiotic in the name of getting on TV, the broadcasters aren't going to show it because they don't want to encourage others from doing the same.

We should probably do the same for mass murderers as we do for streakers.
posted by bondcliff at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think it's a good thing, because I think it's really important for people to understand that "regular people" can end up doing horrible things. Even "popular, dreamy" kids can go down dark dark paths - it's not just The Other, it's not just Outsiders and Weirdos. Until we learn that we go nowhere, and the very conflict over this cover suggests we have not.
posted by freebird at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Maybe because, as of the 80s(!) Rolling Stone still hadn't put a Black person on the cover!

Does Jimi Hendrix count?
posted by Gelatin at 12:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]




I think the point is, if he was the lead singer in the band Rage Against the Machine nobody would have thought anything of it. The problem is yeah, he's a good looking kid, and generally good looking kids on the cover of rolling stone are there to be idolized by at least a portion of their readers. They're there to be cut out and posted onto the wall of kids bedrooms.

It isn't just the same people raising cane this time around. New England is up in arms over this. That's a pretty choice market in the US. Alienating a large population of prime audience who spend money on frivolous things (like Rolling Stone) is bad - is real bad. Advertisers are outraged in this case because they can't keep their money in the magazine - at least for a little bit. For many, this is Sara Palin's Alaska in print form - except the person on the cover isn't partisan. He's reviled by all.

And yeah, he looks like Jim Morrison or Chris Cornell. In the New York Times he looks like a kid in a T-Shirt. On Rolling Stone, I want to know what kind of guitar he plays. The difference is the context of the magazine.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:44 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


their options were quite limited considering how dreamy he is
The could have used his side-on mugshot.
posted by fullerine at 12:44 PM on July 17, 2013


We should probably do the same for mass murderers as we do for streakers.

That's what they tried to do with Herostratus! On one level, they failed, as is his name is still recorded in history. But on another level, they won, because to find that Wikipedia page I had to google Greek Guy Who Burn Down Temple
posted by Greg Nog at 12:44 PM on July 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thank you, bondcliff.

You know what would have been cool? Carlos Arredondo on the cover of Rolling Stone. He was one of the most recognizable First Responders and his story is very compelling. That said, I don't think he'd ever agree to be on the cover of any magazine.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:44 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd rather have the bomber cover than the wave of media panicing about teen girl sexuality. Marcotte: "The whole thing feels uncomfortably like a Justin Bieber fan squee—bad enough when it's for Bieber, but even worse for someone who appears to be a remorseless killer." Bad enough when it's Bieber? WTF?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Years ago Barbara Walters interviewed 'the guy that killed John Lennon' (name not used on purpose) in prison and asked him why he did it. His answer was that he wanted to do something that would make people notice him. He wanted to be famous. I was furious with Walters and her producers at the time for not shutting off the cameras at that point, erasing all their footage, and going home. Instead they broadcast their exclusive interview to the entire world in prime time and essentially gave him exactly what he wanted.

Fame, for whatever reason, has become a valuable and highly sought-after commodity in our society. Some get it by talent, hard work and exceptional skill, and others get it simply by killing one well-known person or many unknown ones.

I don't know if Tsarnaev is a fame-seeker, either consciously or subconsciously, or if that had any part in his motivation, but I think there's a lot of good reasons not to add to the celebrity of murderers.
posted by rocket88 at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I live in Boston and my Facebook feed is blowing up with a lot of locals outraged over this, and I guess I just don't see what's so horrible about it, or what huge offense has been committed. Tsarnaev has been all over the covers of countless local publications and no one gave a shit. I'm gathering that the issue is maybe that they didn't draw devil horns on him or write the word BAD GUY on his forehead?

The alternative would be to run on their cover one of the handful of photos that everyone has already seen a million times, or to blow up someone's grainy cell phone picture of him maybe? There haven't exactly been a lot of photos of him taken since the arrest.

A few people on my FB feed have said that the victims should be on the cover - personally I would find that to be in poorer taste, especially since the article is not about them but one of the people who murdered them.

I don't know. I really don't see the cover as glorifying him. Others take it that way, and if that's how it hits them, then okay.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


He's a complicated man, and no one understands him but Janet Reitman.
posted by feste at 12:47 PM on July 17, 2013


"What I'm curious about is the source of the GRAR."
posted by ob1quixote

Well the fact that he helped, with malice aforethought, perpertrate a horrific terror attack which killed 3, including an 8 year old, and injured hundreds; caused thousands of pounds of damage to peoples businesses and property and led to a massive and expensive police lockdown. And RS make him look like fucking Jim Morrison ffs.

He has pled not guilty to all charges recently.
posted by marienbad at 12:49 PM on July 17, 2013


Greg Nog - That's what they tried to do with [name omitted]

Well you're certainly not helping!
posted by bondcliff at 12:52 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There were teenage girls wearing buttons with Richard Ramirez(the night stalker) captioned" I love your smile" 25 years ago.

Both they and those who now have the hots for Tsarnev are idiots.
posted by brujita at 12:54 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


The could have used his side-on mugshot.

Actually, federal mugshots are generally (and IMO quite rightly) not generally released. I'm not aware that Tsarnaev's were, though certainly I could have missed it somewhere.
posted by dsfan at 12:54 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And RS make him look like fucking Jim Morrison ffs.

I think his genes did that.
posted by yoink at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


The reason they did not use a picture of Carlos Arrondedo is because the article is not about Carlos Arrondedo. It is about Tsarnaev.

And as for the picture they did use - it was the picture Tsarnaev had on his own Facebook page. It wasn't like rolling stone commissioned an Annie Leibovitz portrait session or anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


I live in Watertown, Massachusetts, blocks away from the gun-and-explosives fight happened between the cover boy, his dead brother, and the police.

I live on a street with only one way out -- a "dead end." And at midnight, 1230am, 1am, 130am, 2a, 230am, 3am, 330am that early Friday morning, I was stuck at the end of that street, looking up the street from the window in my front door, and praying to whatever friendly god would listen that they would catch him, and that in the meantime he would not come down my street.

Glorifying murderers is a thing we do in this country. Even (especially!) if they describe him as a monster, that picture glorifies Tsarnaev. Someone upthread said that this is a manufactured controversy because the New York Times ran that photo in May. I disagree: The Times' photo took up 1/3rd of the front page, while that same photo takes all of whole glossy front page of Rolling Stone. No, I wouldn't have been a fan of the Times running that pic if I had known about it in May, but the two things do not compare.

For me, the bottom line is this: For a few days, Boston-Cambridge-Watertown was living something out of Grand Theft Auto... and our leaders had us on virtual lockdown that Thursday night and Friday. (It wasn't martial law, but it was freaking close.) I will never forget those images, I will never forget the blessing of my daughter being 50 miles away that day, and I will never forget the abject terror of realizing that if Tsarnaev came down my street I would have very few real options and none of them were good.

I don't care what put him into the state of mind that led him to bomb the Boston Marathon, other than to try to prevent it from happening again with someone else. But for Tsarnaev... he does not deserve a cover like this. While we don't have to show him bloodied or in the hospital, we do not need to let a terrorist's selfie grace the cover of anything. Show picture of the tanks in Watertown. Show pictures of those killed by Tsarnaev. She the scene of the bombing (you can skip the gore and still get the same effect).

Show anything else.
posted by andreaazure at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Maybe because, as of the 80s(!) Rolling Stone still hadn't put a Black person on the cover!"

Not even remotely true.


I stand (sit, really) corrected. Maybe I was conflating the no hip-hop/rap artist thing with the no Black person thing (which now makes me feel super-awkward). Or, I'm just old.

Thanks for reminding me to check up on my assumptions from my youth.
posted by aureliobuendia at 1:00 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


It wasn't like rolling stone commissioned an Annie Leibovitz portrait session or anything.

Too bad, that photo of Timothy McVeigh in a bath of milk was pretty cool.
posted by bondcliff at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't remember ever meeting a teenage girl who gave a shit about Rolling Stone.

Actually, I can't remember the last time I met anyone who gave a shit about Rolling Stone.
posted by kagredon at 1:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


And RS make him look like fucking Jim Morrison ffs.

I think his genes did that.


It's the prettiest photo of him that exists, by a long shot--it cannot be seriously argued that it's just a photo like any other photo. Whether or not you think it's good journalism, the editors were not making some random choice. And he posted to his FB page because he thought he looked good, right?
posted by feste at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


A Google image search of bin Laden magazine covers will yield many images. So it's nothing new to do this. Therefore, it seems pretty obvious to me that he made the cover because he doesn't look like a typical terrorist. Anyone can be a terrorist. That is what's so scary.

He, of course, cannot help the way he looks. However, RS could have chosen another shot and still make us think about it.

Is it in poor taste? I think it is but it depends on how people view it. I happen to think shots of dead bodies on magazine covers are in bad taste. Or anything that exploits tragedy to sell news. But most all news is exploitative in one way or another. I don't think that will change.
posted by Rashomon at 1:06 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Canceled my subscription, called in right away. I can just imagine the thinking of some deranged person somewhere . . . "Hey I want to be on the cover of RS one day . . . ."

Once found guilty, lock him up, forget his name and picture and never mention him again ever. I am doing the same thing for the guy who did the Port Arthur massacre a while back. Among a few others.
posted by nostrada at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I intend to buy my first copy of Rolling Stone in nearly two decades if I can track down a copy in London. I feel like I have to take some kind of stand against this infantile lynch mob.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 1:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


The meeting behind the cover
posted by timsteil at 1:12 PM on July 17, 2013


The article itself is pretty fascinating.
"He kind of did, one time to me, express that he thought acts of terrorism were justified," says Will. It was around their jun­ior year; the boys had been eating at a neighborhood joint called Izzy's and talking about religion. With certain friends – Will and Sam among them – Jahar opened up about Islam, confiding his hatred of people whose "ignorance" equated Islam with terrorism, defending it as a religion of peace and describing jihad as a personal struggle, nothing more. This time, says Will, "I remember telling him I thought certain aspects of religion were harmful, and I brought up the 9/11 attacks."

At which point Jahar, Will says, told him he didn't want to talk about it anymore. Will asked why. "He said, 'Well, you're not going to like my view.' So I pressed him on it, and he said he felt some of those acts were justified because of what the U.S. does in other countries, and that they do it so frequently, dropping bombs all the time."

To be fair, Will and others note, Jahar's perspective on U.S. foreign policy wasn't all that dissimilar from a lot of other people they knew. "In terms of politics, I'd say he's just as anti-American as the next guy in Cambridge," says Theo. Even so, Will decided not to push it. "I was like, 'Wow, this dude actually supports that? I can't have this conversation anymore.'"

They never brought it up again.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:13 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is histrionic. People are horrified because they can't reconcile his baby face with the horror of the event. All journalism and covers are meant to be provocative. Rolling Stone has to be sensational to be relevant in a sea of media.

I don't think it matters what any media thing does or doesn't do regarding terrorists or murderers. They guarantee their fame with their acts. One more cover isn't that big of a deal to me.
posted by agregoli at 1:13 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


this infantile lynch mob

I propose that there may be a difference between a set of people who want to torture, humiliate, and finally kill another person and the set of people who are put out by a magazine's choice of cover photo.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:14 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I believe the figure of speech I was using is known as a "metaphor."
posted by Perodicticus potto at 1:16 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


marienbad: “And RS make him look like fucking Jim Morrison ffs.”
Just to clarify, I understand why people are angry with Tsarnaev. I even agree. What I am curious about is how a magazine story about a seemingly standard-issue American teenager becoming a cold-blooded killer featuring a cover photo representing the ne plus ultra of teen culture—viz. a cell phone selfie—got ginned up into the controversy of the day.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


News and web cycles need daily controversies.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, consider this. If we weren't arguing about the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, we'd be discussing how our reaction to the terrorist attack was exactly the WRONG thing to do (i.e.: completely shutting down the City of Boston )

"Keep Calm and Carry On", indeed.
posted by mikelieman at 1:26 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the Rolling Stone Charles Manson cover. He kind of looks like late-period Jim Morrison.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:28 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


If we weren't arguing about the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, we'd be discussing how our reaction to the terrorist attack was exactly the WRONG thing to do (i.e.: completely shutting down the City of Boston )

No, I'm pretty sure we can discuss all of these things. And maybe even more things, like how the article is about how a seemingly all right kid started losing his whole support system save for his nutbar older brother.
posted by kagredon at 1:29 PM on July 17, 2013


If Ariel Castro was on the cover, would there be outrage? I'm not sure, but I doubt it. Not so easy to see a balding middle-aged guy as "glamorized".
posted by davebush at 1:32 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I'm pretty sure we can discuss all of these things. And maybe even more things, like how the article is about how a seemingly all right kid started losing his whole support system save for his nutbar older brother.

I was thinking more of "as a society" than "here on MetaFilter".
posted by mikelieman at 1:34 PM on July 17, 2013


With the Manson photo, it makes more sense, since it was clearly a "cult of personality" story by then. Even so, his photo is at least appropriately malevolent looking, as opposed to "here's the accused's favorite photo of himself, which we happen to know many of you will enjoy, while others will undoubtedly be disgusted by our decision. Aren't we wonderfully controversial!
posted by ShutterBun at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2013


The only difference between the Charles Manson cover and the Tsarnaev cover is back then RS was an alternative newspaper. Now it sits on the same rack with People. I think this whole controversy says more about how RS has fallen than anything else.
posted by Gungho at 1:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Which to clarify: I don't mean that excuses his part in the bombings, because it doesn't; nothing does. But reading the article, just--
"All I know is Jahar was really wary of coming home high because of how his brother would react. He'd get really angry," says Will. "He was a really intense dude."

"And if you weren't Muslim, he was even more intense," says Sam, who notes that he never met Tamerlan in person, though he heard stories about him all the time from Jahar. "I was fascinated – this dude's, like, six-three, he's a boxer – I wanted to meet him," says Sam. "But Jahar was like, 'No, you don't want to meet him.'"

Jahar rarely spoke to his friends about his sisters, Ailina and Bella, who, just a few years older than he, kept to themselves but also had their own struggles. Attractive, dark-haired girls who were "very Americanized," as friends recall, they worshipped Tamerlan, whom one sister would later refer to as her "hero" – but they were also subject to his role as family policeman. When Bella was a junior in high school, her father, hearing that she'd been seen in the company of an American boy, pulled her out of school and dispatched Tamerlan to beat the boy up. Friends later spotted Bella wearing a hijab; not long afterward, she disappeared from Cambridge entirely. Some time later, Ailina would similarly vanish. Both girls were reportedly set up in arranged marriages.
This left me speechless for a moment, out of recognition. I haven't followed a lot of the press about Tsarnaev, but I knew kids from families like that. I think probably all of us did. Sometimes very religious (Muslim or Christian, usually, but not always), sometimes adhering to some other very traditional, conservative model of family, sometimes a parent or older sibling who was controlling for no real reason at all. Some of those kids found an out. Some of them never really left. Some of them...well, some of them, I've lost touch with.

It's an interesting article, and it makes me very much doubt the "fame-seeker" angle a lot of people are putting on this.
posted by kagredon at 1:42 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The problem is not with the article or with the choice of photograph, but that they put his picture on the cover at all. Rolling Stone, 99% of the time, has celebrities on the cover. It's like the lessons of the Columbine star-making coverage have been forgotten.

That said, they did have Charles Manson on there in 1970.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not to mention this monster.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:46 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I just left a copy of this magazine addressed to Obama at the Ground Zero mosque.
posted by srboisvert at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2013


Not to mention this monster.

God, the juxtaposition between that fucking 3D computer generated minstrel show paid advertisement and the Columbine headline is just mind blowing.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


it cannot be seriously argued that it's just a photo like any other photo

It is easily the most famous photo of the guy, one we've all seen a thousand times before this. RS, not surprisingly, chose to go with an image that we would all recognize immediately and which fed directly into the thesis of their story (how did this sweet looking guy become "a monster"). I've noticed that all the sites grar-ing about RS's decision do so under an image of the cover--because they know that it's an image that readers will immediately recognize, feel strongly about and which will draw readers to click on the story for more. I would also be surprised if a single one of those sites hasn't already run the image in the past--probably multiple times.
posted by yoink at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it is useful to bring out into the open the reality that physical beauty does not equal innocence or purity or whatever other nonsense that you want to associate with it. A pretty face does not mean that the person is good or interesting or even lovable.
posted by JJ86 at 1:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually, I can't remember the last time I met anyone who gave a shit about Rolling Stone.

Quite a few of your fellow mefites seem to.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


One breakout writer does not relevance make. It's like saying that NBC is popular on the basis that people love Community.
posted by kagredon at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2013


The reason they did not use a picture of Carlos Arrondedo is because the article is not about Carlos Arrondedo. It is about Tsarnaev.
Arredondo is much more worthy of the attention and of being the subject of a large profile. If this were a truly just world, we might never know Tsarnev's name. This was my point; I apologize if it didn't comet hrugh.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:59 PM on July 17, 2013


weird thought: would things be different if more mass murderers took selfies?
posted by raihan_ at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2013


I guess my whole problem with it is that I think we shouldn't give these assholes any more notoriety than is absolutely necessary

The boycott seems ill-founded then.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:13 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, I can't remember the last time I met anyone who gave a shit about Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone's circulation is 1,464,943. Another 90,000 distributed through newsstand and other channels (doctor's offices?).

I think they are likely quite neutral on the boycott. It might even pay off in subscribers.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:17 PM on July 17, 2013


Believe it or not, before the Internet (and before I became a total indie music fan boy while volunteering at the campus radio station), RS and Spin were the only way to find out about new music. They didn't carry NME in any of the magazine stands (yes! we used to have 3 stores that just sold mags) in my town.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:40 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


With the Manson photo, it makes more sense, since it was clearly a "cult of personality" story by then. Even so, his photo is at least appropriately malevolent looking, as opposed to "here's the accused's favorite photo of himself, which we happen to know many of you will enjoy, while others will undoubtedly be disgusted by our decision. Aren't we wonderfully controversial!

Yeah. RS should have done some retouching to make him more evil, amirite?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:46 PM on July 17, 2013


RS and Spin were the only way to find out about new music.

and by the late 80s/90s, Maximum Rock N' Roll and Alternative Press ... which we read in Tower (or Walgreen's) and write down the albums we wanted to buy, which was the only way to hear anything.

/getoffmylawn
posted by mrgrimm at 2:50 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, FFS, the entire point of using that particular photo on the cover, when combined with the (actually pretty great, and comprehensive) story on the inside, which details how he descended into a jihadist mindset, was to point out how terrorism is not some weird thing perpetrated by outsiders, or The Other, or some other Scary Radical Muslims, but that it can equally end up being perpetrated by someone who has – and the article bears this out – been fully assimilated into American culture, as far as his entire social circle knows.

I really suspect that part of the outrage over the whole thing is that many of those who object to the cover photo are of the mindset that no-one who looks so much like a typical American teenager could ever be part of such a terrorist act. Because as we all know, terrorism is strictly practiced by weird swarthy, angry foreign types, and the fact is, that Tsarnaev – regardless of his motives – looks like any number of teenaged American stoners.
posted by Len at 3:12 PM on July 17, 2013 [37 favorites]


mrgrimm: and by the late 80s/90s, Maximum Rock N' Roll and Alternative Press ...

Oh, you've just reminded me of OPtion, which I used to buy on import in the UK in the early 90s. Damn, that was such a great magazine. At least to my 16 year old indie-kid self, hungry for news on the latest Simple Machines releases ...
posted by Len at 3:17 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Believe it or not, before the Internet (and before I became a total indie music fan boy while volunteering at the campus radio station), RS and Spin were the only way to find out about new music.

no - first, your local indy record store

2nd - your local campus radio station (and in the early 70s, a surprising selection of commercial stations)

3rd - your local new music freaks

4th - mix tapes

5th - your public library

back when i was still in grand rapids, i actually bought a copy of NME with the sex pistols on the cover
posted by pyramid termite at 3:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


and boy howdy, doesn't anyone remember CREEM?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:21 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't care what put him into the state of mind that led him to bomb the Boston Marathon, other than to try to prevent it from happening again with someone else.

How on earth do you expect to figure out how to prevent it happening again without investigating what put him into that state of mind in the first place?...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:21 PM on July 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh, FFS, the entire point of using that particular photo on the cover, when combined with the (actually pretty great, and comprehensive) story on the inside, which details how he descended into a jihadist mindset, was to point out how terrorism is not some weird thing perpetrated by outsiders, or The Other, or some other Scary Radical Muslims, but that it can equally end up being perpetrated by someone who has – and the article bears this out – been fully assimilated into American culture, as far as his entire social circle knows.

I really suspect that part of the outrage over the whole thing is that many of those who object to the cover photo are of the mindset that no-one who looks so much like a typical American teenager could ever be part of such a terrorist act. Because as we all know, terrorism is strictly practiced by weird swarthy, angry foreign types, and the fact is, that Tsarnaev – regardless of his motives – looks like any number of teenaged American stoners.


I have been following this thread agreeing with a lot of comments along this line, but yeah all of this that Len said. Exactly.

I don't have any problem with this cover and think it's just a continuation of all the media and public obsession with all these murders that we've had lately. Jody Arias, Zimmerman, Tsarnaev brothers. It's becoming a national obsession, and the rabid "lock em up and throw away the key" people aren't really doing anything other than following the show as well.
posted by sweetkid at 3:23 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel it's a bit "have your cake and eat it too" on the part of RS. I'm not offended by the cover but I think they get to make money off of the people who just want to read the (well written, thoughtful) article and also the "Johar is dreamy" camp that many other people find really problematic. But it's sort of in keeping with the way RS has often done things in the past and I think stressing the "This could have been the kid next door, seriously" serves the purpose of the article. I spent some of yesterday at UMass Dartmouth's library thinking a lot about whether Tsarnaev (who went to school there) had spent any time there, and what my feelings on intellectual freedom vis a vis his library records were in light of what we now know. Tough stuff, no clear answers.
posted by jessamyn at 3:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not like it's the first time the cover of Rolling Stone has featured a non-disparaging photo of someone who has killed innocent people. George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton have all been on it in the fairly recent past.
posted by threeants at 3:37 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid –

I kind of look at it along the same lines of a cover story which contrasts a photo of Cory Monteith – teeth dazzlingly white, grin intact, sharp suit present and correct – with a grim, depressing story of his last few days. The whole reason for using a photo of Monteith at his most attractive is to sharply illustrate how radically different the circumstances of his death are to his public persona. (And I should make clear, here, that I'm not comparing Tsarnaev to Monteith; more drawing a parallel between two people whose private and public personas differ so radically.)
posted by Len at 3:39 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Though, precedent-noting aside, I agree that the pictures of both Tsarnaev and of the rest are doing something of a cake-having/eating by juxtaposing journalistic interest with "coverboy" imagery.)
posted by threeants at 3:40 PM on July 17, 2013


Yeah, I was ambivalent about the cover – any design choice that's a good marketing move immediately makes me suspect about the designers' motives – but the article itself was damn good, and justifies the cover entirely, to my mind.

The emphasis of the story is on the normality of Jahar's life, both school and family, and how it slowly fell apart until the guy slipped through the cracks. His parents faced employment troubles, resulting in a divorce that had both of them leave America. His older brother, whose boxing dreams were shot down in part because he wasn't eligible for citizenship, turned towards his religion and became kind of obsessive about it. Jahar went to a kind of shitty college because he couldn't afford to attend anywhere better, lost his group of friends, started hating his life – and as somebody who went through a year of college alienation, I sympathize with what a crappy position it is to be surrounded by people you don't identify with – and wound up spending time with his now-fanatic brother, who the article notes was very manipulative and possibly abusive. Some time goes by, Jahar's newfound beliefs go unchecked by peers or family or whomever, and suddenly this new craziness starts seeming like it makes sense, and bam—he's the Boston Bomber.

That's a bit of a blithe summary, but what made the article fascinating was that, from all evidence provided, Jahar was a fairly stable kid who had a decent social life, some hobbies and enthusiasms, and yes, natural good looks—all the things we're told, according to the American Myth, will make us love America and live a perfect life, even if we're dirt poor (which Jahar's family was not). Yet despite all that, he was able to get to a point where he felt so alienated from the society he was a part of that he was willing to kill innocent people in the idealistic pursuit of a country he never visited. The article doesn't excuse him from his crimes, either—I was a bit nervous that it would pin the blame on his brother and make him out to be a confused innocent, but nope, it makes him out to be pretty aware of what it is he's planning to do.

It's a somewhat unsettling read, and it makes Jahar somebody I can relate to and even feel like I've shared parts of my life story with, all the while suggesting that the evils that may have driven him to murder are a lot more commonplace and integral to modern life than it's comfortable to think. In that context, the magazine cover makes perfect sense—it's shocking, kind of outrageous, and yeah, the sort of "everyday gorgeous guy" shot that makes teenage girls swoon with silliness, all at once. It's a good summary of the tensions which underlie the article as well. And yes, it'll be controversial and also sell a ton of copies. That's a good thing, I think—this is the kind of article that makes people think interesting and worthwhile thoughts.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:46 PM on July 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


The article has been put up online. I haven't got through it but FB comments from Boston folk suggest there no new information.

At least here the popularity of the event means almost everyone has a close connection. I have a recipient from the candy store next to the first bomb on my shelf with a timestamp 3 minutes prior and I heard it described while I was on the phone. The cover just seems very wrong.

Most current RS covers are people that are admired. The NYT cover looked like a scruffy dude, somehow on the cropping and perhaps photoshop touch up makes Tsarnaev look scruffy glamorous. Just tacky, bad, editorial decisions.
posted by sammyo at 3:57 PM on July 17, 2013


And Anderson Cooper says Tsarnaev's name but won't say "Adam Lanza," like he's freaking Voldemort. Boy do we have some fucked up media and media consumers.
posted by Camofrog at 4:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am waiting for "The 20th C's Dreamiest Genocidal Leaders."

Jahar is cute I suppose, but he's got nothing on the smoldering hot-fire sexitude of Young Uncle Joe.
posted by FatherDagon at 4:03 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


But instead, we've got a "dreamy photo" of a total piece of shit, promising all sorts of in depth stories about what makes him tick (errr, no pun intended) with a clear agenda of pandering to his idiotic fanbase, and it's like..

By calling it "The Bomber," they've made it about him. (and perhaps made it too easy to do some creative cutting and create a pinup calling him "The Bomb."

I have a massive problem with the...'tone' of the photo (for want of a better word; sorry, it's 3am here). There's something very Jim Morrison-esque about it. The pose, the curly locks over the forehead, the little pouty lips. He looks faintly bewildered, innocent yet still sultry

These are some of the weirdest things I've read on this site.

This is what the kid looks like. This is what his friends knew. Part of what makes the story interesting is how unlikely he seemed as someone who would do what he did. He seemed like a normal kid, liked to hang out and party and smoke dope with his friends. So it's a picture of him looking like a normal kid. Not sure what's wrong with writing about the perpetrator of a terrible bombing form the angle of "how the hell did this kid wind up doing that?" It's a story I'm interested in.
posted by Hoopo at 4:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


The NYT cover looked like a scruffy dude, somehow on the cropping and perhaps photoshop touch up makes Tsarnaev look scruffy glamorous.

People have been talking (endlessly) about how glamorous he looks in that photo since it first appeared (and every time it got endlessly reused by all the media outlets who are now SHOCKED and APPALLED that Rolling Stone used it. There have been endless stories in the press about girls swooning over how "dreamy" he is (based almost entirely on that photo) long before the RS cover appeared.
posted by yoink at 4:23 PM on July 17, 2013


And Anderson Cooper says Tsarnaev's name but won't say "Adam Lanza," like he's freaking Voldemort. Boy do we have some fucked up media and media consumers.

To be fair he looks kinda like Iggy Pop and we can't go giving these guys the rock star treatment can we
posted by Hoopo at 4:43 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


This thread and the one on Reddit both remind me of the time that Tom Snyder on the Late Late Show asked Chris Rock why he, Snyder, isn't allowed to say the N-word when so many black people say it.

Chris Rock responded by saying "Why would you want to?"
posted by 4ster at 4:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree with Chris rock but why does this remind you of that?
posted by sweetkid at 4:53 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh there's always been a connection between rock and roll and murder... look at the Stones at Altamont. Back when VH1 aired a show about unsolved musical mysteries there'd always be guys in 'Free Charlie Manson' shirts, and heaps of bands have covered his songs for cheap shock value. Djahar is just the latest killer pin-up.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:55 PM on July 17, 2013


I guess I'm trying to understand how Rolling Stone could, on the one hand, have every right to have Tsarnaev on the cover, but wondering why on earth they would want to. It may not have been my best analogy of the day.
posted by 4ster at 4:56 PM on July 17, 2013


These are some of the weirdest things I've read on this site.

The people complaining the loudest of this photo are, of course, its biggest admirers. It's not their fault -- they don't want to love this image -- but they do, uncritically, unthinkingly, reflexively. And they may protest (too much) but we all know they're only trying to convince anybody but themselves. This is the terrible dissonance that threatens all true believers; at some point they get a glimpse of their own chains and it's truly horrifying.

Putting aside all the infantile comments in this thread and on the article it is always good to see something like real journalism emerging from unexpected corners within the media landscape. It does suggest some kind of basic, natural journalistic impulse remains despite all the time and money invested to suppress it.
posted by nixerman at 4:59 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was what their main story was about. The story was written to convey insight into the character of a terrorist.

Ignoring what makes terrorists terrorists is an easy recipe for creating more terrorists.
posted by chiquitita at 4:59 PM on July 17, 2013



I honestly can't understand the controversy to save my life. Why wouldn't Rolling Stone have a cover story about the Boston bomber(s)?


they should have put Dropkick Murphys on the cover, looking angry
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:00 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]



As with everything related to Rolling Stone, it was better when I was a kid. We certainly had better cover controversies. Rolling Stone wouldn't put a hip-hop or rap act on the cover. Maybe because, as of the 80s(!) Rolling Stone still hadn't put a Black person on the cover! And then we had Ice-T with Body Count and "Cop Killer" not to mention just the out-and-out awesomeness of Public Enemy. Totally ironic that Ice-T's cover was him dressed as a cop, which is what he does professionally these days.


Wait... Rolling Stone has rap artists on the cover? But it's a rock and roll magazine! This is why I only read Uncut.

anyway, terrorists, killers, whatever... they're all popculture/popcult figures. and Rolling Stone comes from the 60s, where music wasn't as homogenized and precious and everyone was trying to connect themselves to the occult and o that dark strain in culture
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:02 PM on July 17, 2013


anyway, terrorists, killers, whatever... they're all popculture/popcult figures. and Rolling Stone comes from the 60s, where music wasn't as homogenized and precious and everyone was trying to connect themselves to the occult and o that dark strain in culture

what
posted by kagredon at 5:05 PM on July 17, 2013


anyway he's a radical loser, maybe a bit of emphasis on the radical. is he a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm? when i was a kid the outcasts talked about Klebold and Harris, now there's another figurehead. makes sense to me
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:06 PM on July 17, 2013


anyway, terrorists, killers, whatever... they're all popculture/popcult figures. and Rolling Stone comes from the 60s, where music wasn't as homogenized and precious and everyone was trying to connect themselves to the occult and o that dark strain in culture

what


what i said... back then singers palled around with Alister Crowley. flirted with the murderous image. Stones hiring the Hells Angels. Beach Boys almost hiring Manson. Jim Morrison deathcult shmanism. now that sort of thing has been shunted off to the margins, to extreme metal, while the mainstream music is about playing nice
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:07 PM on July 17, 2013


Brings to mind the Clash song, "Tommy Gun."

'...cutting out your picture from page one...'

As Joe Strummer explained, the song is about "the ego of terrorists" and media glorification: "It struck me that they must read their press clippings, like rock starts or actors and actresses do," and
"the resultant death making him a sort of cartoon celebrity."

Anyway, terrible decision, Rolling Stone.
posted by taro sato at 5:16 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess I'm trying to understand how Rolling Stone could, on the one hand, have every right to have Tsarnaev on the cover, but wondering why on earth they would want to.

Generally, when magazines write an article about something, they put a picture of the topic of that article on the cover. So since they wrote an article about Tsarnaev, then it stands to reason that they would put a picture of Tsarnaev on the cover.

I'm honestly baffled why this is difficult for people to understand.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:17 PM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Aleister Crowley died in 1947, and mainstream music in the 1960s was all about making rock-and-roll "homogenized and precious" enough so that white middle-class audiences wouldn't shun it.

Please go beg, buy, borrow, or steal a clue.
posted by kagredon at 5:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


wait... why is Jay-Z mentioned on the cover of a rock and roll magazine?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:21 PM on July 17, 2013


People on the evening news (after the All Star game) were getting all THINK OF THE CHILDREN about this and how it makes Tsarnaev look like a dreamboat and that could bring impressionable teens into TERRORISM and it's like, no teens actually read Rolling Stone, and I'm not too worried about turning 45-year-old dadrockers into extremists, you know?
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


wait... why is Jay-Z mentioned on the cover of a rock and roll magazine?

Because it's not a "rock and roll" magazine. It's a magazine that covers music, politics, and popular culture.
posted by palomar at 5:28 PM on July 17, 2013


I really suspect that part of the outrage over the whole thing is that many of those who object to the cover photo are of the mindset that no-one who looks so much like a typical American teenager could ever be part of such a terrorist act.

And you suspect this despite the fact that no one who objects to the cover photo has said anything remotely like that?

I mean, what, you think everyone who is disgusted by a terrorist being treated like a celebrity is in denial about his possibly even being a terrorist? Am I reading that right?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


he's already a celebrity. if anything the problem is that his fanbase skews younger and female, to the point where there's already a bunch of fake Tiger Beat photoshops going around the web. so he should be on the cover of... Cosmo? Frankie? I dunno
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:44 PM on July 17, 2013


wait... why is Jay-Z mentioned on the cover of a rock and roll magazine?

You review music for a living or a serious hobby if I recall correctly? This is the point at which I politely ask that if you are not trolling you make it more clear that you are trying to join the conversation already in progress, using my mod hat.
posted by jessamyn at 5:45 PM on July 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Generally, when magazines write an article about something, they put a picture of the topic of that article on the cover. So since they wrote an article about Tsarnaev, then it stands to reason that they would put a picture of Tsarnaev on the cover.

I'm honestly baffled why this is difficult for people to understand.


They had half a dozen other stories (mentioned on the cover) and probably scores of photos to choose from, yet chose the "pretty boy selfie" shot. (Which, by all accounts, has already been saturating the media for months.)

You honestly don't see any room for criticism here?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:27 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I don't, no.

They went with the story they thought would sell best. Because it's interesting. And no, I don't think that's irresponsible nor do I think they need to draw devil horns and a goatee on him in order to be responsible.
posted by Hoopo at 6:55 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


ShutterBun: They had half a dozen other stories (mentioned on the cover)

Yes, this is the way that magazines work. There are coverlines about all the major stories, the most significant of which they have a cover photo for. Given that the Tsarnaev story was the biggest – in terms of word length – story of the issue, it's no surprise that he was the cover story. I haven't seen the actual, physical magazine, but have read the online version of the story, and its long enough to fill a good 12 to 14 pages of a standard-sized magazine.

yet chose the "pretty boy selfie" shot. (Which, by all accounts, has already been saturating the media for months.)

So if the shot has already been "saturating the media for months", why is it such a problem for Rolling Stone to use it?
posted by Len at 7:04 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


They went with the story they thought would sell best... And no, I don't think that's irresponsible...

Ah, therein lies our disagreement.
posted by Behemoth at 7:11 PM on July 17, 2013


It's irresponsible to deliver informative content on a topic people are interested in? Or only if you intend to profit from it?
posted by Hoopo at 7:19 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


This blurb at Slate suggests that there are not a lot of images of Tsarenev available for journalists to choose from.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:33 PM on July 17, 2013


So if the shot has already been "saturating the media for months", why is it such a problem for Rolling Stone to use it?

Frankly, I think it's because they are Rolling Stone. Sure, they do great, in-depth reporting on important news stories on a fairly(?) regular basis, but with very few exceptions, their cover photos (regardless of the stories within) are of famous musicians or more generally, "celebrities."

Is Tsarnaev now a "celebrity?" He must be, his adorable face is all over the cover of Rolling Stone! For better or worse, the cover of an entertainment magazine is just not the same as the cover of Time or the New York Times. And I suspect that if Tsarnaev was darker skinned, or ugly, or less "adorable," they wouldn't have put them on the cover at all, even if he still fit the "terrorist next door" trope for them.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


What if this kid had been a terrorist who only blew up innocent people in, say, Chechneya? I'm not sure we'd be so pissed about this, and maybe we'd want to RTFA to get at least a vague idea how he talked himself into it, because that's what I really want to know. That's a story the average American surely can't understand. The fact that he is American enough to be a sexy kid on the cover of Rolling Stone and be alien enough to blow us up is absolutely part of the story. Also since when has Rolling Stone not been about making a profit.
posted by Camofrog at 8:25 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Two possible reasons:

1) He looks like a young Bob Dylan and the magazine gets it's name from the song, "Like a Rolling Stone"

2) Jann Wenner is a low-life, attention-seeking douche-flake whose magazine sales are flagging so he decided to get some free publicity in the form of controversy.
posted by Renoroc at 8:39 PM on July 17, 2013


I really suspect that part of the outrage over the whole thing is that many of those who object to the cover photo are of the mindset that no-one who looks so much like a typical American teenager could ever be part of such a terrorist act. Because as we all know, terrorism is strictly practiced by weird swarthy, angry foreign types, and the fact is, that Tsarnaev – regardless of his motives – looks like any number of teenaged American stoners.

People keep saying this, but just...no.

Give people a bit of credit for not being completely naive. Nobody thinks, 'Oooh, sweet-looking kids can be terrorists too?! MIND BLOWN!!'. FFS, Martin Bryant, who murdered 35 people in a shooting spree in Australia a couple of decades ago, looked like a choirboy (blonde curls, blue eyes). What do you think that people expect a 'typical American teenager' to look like these days? It's not the 1950s.

Personally, my outrage is over the emphasis on his looks at all. Rolling Stone covers are all about the 'sex sells' thing, and using a photo like this for an article like this is a cheap circulation grab.
posted by Salamander at 8:53 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]



2) Jann Wenner is a low-life, attention-seeking douche-flake whose magazine sales are flagging so he decided to get some free publicity in the form of controversy.


i thought Jann Wenner's kid was running it now


Give people a bit of credit for not being completely naive. Nobody thinks, 'Oooh, sweet-looking kids can be terrorists too?! MIND BLOWN!!'. FFS, Martin Bryant, who murdered 35 people in a shooting spree in Australia a couple of decades ago, looked like a choirboy (blonde curls, blue eyes). What do you think that people expect a 'typical American teenager' to look like these days? It's not the 1950s.


maybe its not an either/or thing? maybe he's both a sweet teenager and somebody who's anger lead him astray and into some violent places?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:55 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of things going on in the world to be outraged about right now.

A picture of a person on the cover of a magazine is not one of them.
posted by autobahn at 9:05 PM on July 17, 2013


Boston Mayor Menino writes a letter to Rolling Stone.
Dear Mr. Wenner,

Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their "causes". There may be valuable journalism behind your sensational treatment, though we can't know because almost all you released is the cover.

To respond to you in anger is to feed into your obvious marketing strategy. So, I write to you instead to put the focus where you could have: on the brave and strong survivors and on the thousands of people - their family and friends, volunteers, first responders, doctors, nurses, and donors - who have come to their side. Among those we lost, those who survived, and those who help carry them forward, there are artists and musicians and dancers and writers. They have dreams and plans. They struggle and strive. The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.

Sincerely,
Thomas. M. Menino
Mayor of Boston
posted by jessamyn at 9:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nobody thinks, 'Oooh, sweet-looking kids can be terrorists too?! MIND BLOWN!!'. FFS, Martin Bryant, who murdered 35 people in a shooting spree in Australia a couple of decades ago, looked like a choirboy (blonde curls, blue eyes). What do you think that people expect a 'typical American teenager' to look like these days? It's not the 1950s.

Respectfully, are you American and/or have you lived in the US post-9/11? Because there are some pretty complicated issues regarding race, othering, and the perception of terrorism that you seem to be entirely unaware of based on this comment.
posted by kagredon at 9:10 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of things going on in the world to be outraged about right now.

A picture of a person on the cover of a magazine is not one of them.


Why not? Seriously, why do you get to dictate what's worth being outraged about??

If you honestly think this is all just about a picture, you're missing the point so thoroughly, I'm not sure why you're engaging in the discussion.
posted by Salamander at 9:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Respectfully, are you American and/or have you lived in the US post-9/11? Because there are some pretty complicated issues regarding race, othering, and the perception of terrorism that you seem to be entirely unaware of based on this comment.

No, I'm not and I haven't. But I'm nowhere near as 'unaware' as you're assuming I am, trust me. ('Entirely unaware?' You must be kidding.) Perhaps unfortunately, a person doesn't need to actually live in America to be painfully aware of the complicated issues to which you allude.

But hey, once the 'othering' brigade appears...I'm out. Carry on.
posted by Salamander at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2013


People lost their legs because of what this person did. A beautiful child died. Fuck literally everything about this. R. Schlock

I guess we can't have magazine covers of any modern US president either.
posted by readyfreddy at 9:27 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also more than the child died
posted by sweetkid at 9:37 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If this were a truly just world, we might never know Tsarnev's name.

Wouldn't that permit an even more unjust world? We don't know the details of the perpetrators of crimes so the State can just put pretty much anyone away. That would be terrible. As it is, prisons in the U.S. are full of people we are unaware of generally for crimes that should not result in a prison sentence or in many cases, even be classified as criminal.
posted by juiceCake at 10:24 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]



If this were a truly just world, we might never know Tsarnev's name.

Wouldn't that permit an even more unjust world? We don't know the details of the perpetrators of crimes so the State can just put pretty much anyone away. That would be terrible. As it is, prisons in the U.S. are full of people we are unaware of generally for crimes that should not result in a prison sentence or in many cases, even be classified as criminal.


nah stuff like this is an easy route to fame - its why Yoko didn't want anyone to mention Lennon's killers name, preferring a Voldemort-style 'He who must not be named'. see: John Hinkley, some of the recent spree killers. not saying this is Tsarnev's motive, but killing a bunch of people is an easy way to get famous, and turning these people into idols just reinforces that
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:51 PM on July 17, 2013


I'd like to think I'm not alone in seeing an event like this and wondering "why?"

That is why I'm interested in reading about Jahar. That is why putting a picture of him looking like a typical teenage pothead on the cover piques my interest. The 9/11 hijackers, their story was a bit easier to understand. They were undercover Al-Qaeda guys on a mission, had visited training camps and set up shady meetings all over the globe to set the plan in motion. They seemed pretty normal, but everything about their lives in the US was fake. Likewise, Tamerlan? His story also seems a bit easier to understand. He was 15-16 when he got to the US, and he apparently had difficulty fitting in and got bitter and angry and resentful, and also went to camps etc.

It's a little harder for me to understand a guy who got to the US at 8 years old and appeared to have been just a normal neighborhood kid who grew up there and fit in and liked the same things the other kids did. Not even an outsider or an angry loner like his brother. That is why I am interested in his story. That is why he's on the cover. He's not there because he's an idol or because it's glamorous or something. It's because it's striking and provocative.
posted by Hoopo at 11:06 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just read the whole article. Fascinating. I'd like to think that everyone would read it before commenting on the matter of the cover, but I guess that's not how this post was intended.
posted by mannequito at 1:00 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Wouldn't that permit an even more unjust world? We don't know the details of the perpetrators of crimes so the State can just put pretty much anyone away. That would be terrible. As it is, prisons in the U.S. are full of people we are unaware of generally for crimes that should not result in a prison sentence or in many cases, even be classified as criminal."

No, as the "just world" wouldn't have marathons bombed and innocent people maimed and murdered. We wouldn't know his name because he'd be, like, a local wrestler or something.
posted by klangklangston at 1:06 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


From my other side of the world. This story is making the main stream news here

My first thoughts have been

Great cover. Brave Cover.

The reaction to the cover says a lot about racial profiling in the US. Rolling Stone is showing that no matter how you look, you can still be a terrorist/mass murder. There has been a lot of talk about the racial profiling young black men in hoodies, it's seems laughable to complain about a terrorist looking a certian way.

Also say's something about fame and the media. Why must Rolling Stone stick to putting manufactured rock stars on the cover? The article is probably more educational then reading about Bieber.

There has also been comments about how Tsarnaev has been rewarded with what he was after, fame. Say's something about fame in the US of A if people this his picture and the label monster equals a reward.

If there is concern about young girls swooning over his picture, then maybe those young girls need a better education to be able to understand context and fame.
posted by Burgatron at 2:30 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


i would have understood it more had rolling stone's response had anything to do with the idea that anyone (even a pin-up dude) can be a killer among us. but their response was a misdirection, entirely about their right to do the story, as if that were the aspect anyone was criticizing. i haven't heard anyone say that they shouldn't have done a story on the guy, and most people have a vague sense that rolling stone sometimes does serious stories like this.

it's not like they snagged a raw photo and put it up as is; they made design choices that give it a certain look and tone. it might be more useful if someone had a decent female equivalent, down to pouty lips and tousled hair, which i think would look more soft-pornish.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:16 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


stuff like this is an easy route to fame - its why Yoko didn't want anyone to mention Lennon's killers name, preferring a Voldemort-style 'He who must not be named'. see: John Hinkley, some of the recent spree killers. not saying this is Tsarnev's motive, but killing a bunch of people is an easy way to get famous, and turning these people into idols just reinforces that

Apples and oranges.

We definitively know that Lennon's killer did it for the fame, because he's said so. Also, Chapman behaved very differently from Tsarnaev - he used a gun, fired at close range, and stood around the scene after his attack waiting to be arrested - and then boasted when he did. Tsarnaev, on the other hand, used a bomb that was set to go off after he was out of the way, covered his tracks, and evaded capture for nearly a week. Those do not seem like the actions of someone who wants fame.

Even if you say "well, I'm not talking about whether Tsarnaev wanted it, I'm talking about how society responds to this" - that didn't stop us from putting Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaszinzky, or Osama Bin Laden on countless news magazine covers. So why does this one particular topic have us up in arms? Why didn't anyone claim that putting Timothy McVeigh or Osama Bin Laden on the cover of a magazine would "glamorize killing" and make others want to claim the same fame?

i haven't heard anyone say that they shouldn't have done a story on the guy...

Someone seems to imply that very thing right here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:31 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just read the whole article. Fascinating. I'd like to think that everyone would read it before commenting on the matter of the cover...

For the last time: WE DON'T MIND THE ARTICLE. We (or at least I, speaking for myself) get the whole "terrorist next door...looks just like one of us, etc." angle. They did the same thing with Columbine. Apparently this guy set off the same "we must learn more about how and why this happens!" alarms, so now it's a must-read. Saying "an older boy told him to do it " just isn't enough. That's fine.

Let Rolling Stone cover it. Fine! They do plenty of great long-form reporting, I'm more than happy to hear what they have to say, really.

Put his face on the cover? Not strictly necessary, I think. Plenty of other articles in RS get by on their merits, with simply a headline up front, but OK. Maybe a picture of him after his arrest? Nah. How about one of the pics released by the FBI, showing him blending in as a "normal teen?" Nah. What about one of the pictures of him as a smiling student at school, to play up the whole "where did he go wrong?" angle? Nah.

No, what we need is his favorite picture of himself, taken by himself looking oh-so cute that thousands of young girls have already embraced the notion of "too cute to be guilty," and which coincidentally looks an awful lot like many of our usual cover photos of the "celebrity crush of the month" shots end up looking.

See, we get the whole "what makes a terrorist?" thing. We get the whole "gawsh! He looks like a normal nice kid! I wasn't expecting that!" angle. We get that "it's important we learn what causes this sort of thing, etc."

I think a lot of "us" got that before Rolling Stone figured we needed to see this fuckwad's favorite picture if himself yet again, only to be superseded by Lady Gaga or whoever next week.

And if nobody's said it yet, I'll go ahead and jump right into the deep end:

He's no Charlie Manson.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:50 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even if you say "well, I'm not talking about whether Tsarnaev wanted it, I'm talking about how society responds to this" - that didn't stop us from putting Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaszinzky, or Osama Bin Laden on countless news magazine covers.

If things got time-shifted a bit, would you object to Cosmopolitan putting a selfie of Ted Bundy in a Speedo flashing his "get in the car" eyes on their cover?
posted by ShutterBun at 5:01 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If things got time-shifted a bit, would you object to Cosmopolitan putting a selfie of Ted Bundy in a Speedo flashing his "get in the car" eyes on their cover?

This would be absolutely stomach-churning. And because of that it could, in principle, be enormously journalistically powerful.

I think this goes to the core of this dispute actually. People seem to go from "I find this cover disturbing" to "this cover shouldn't have been published". We can argue about how far Rolling Stone created this disturbing effect out of cynicism or out of a commitment to high journalistic principles, but I think you are going to need some extra arguments if you're going to justify the position that disturbing effects in contexts like this just ought not to be created ever.
posted by oliverburkeman at 5:07 AM on July 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


If things got time-shifted a bit, would you object to Cosmopolitan putting a selfie of Ted Bundy in a Speedo flashing his "get in the car" eyes on their cover?

No, if the accompanying article were about "here's how to tell if a hot guy like this is really a psycho"; why would I?

Also, why did you pick "Cosmopolitan" in your analogy? Journalistic quality isn't exactly their forte.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


So to summarize:

Stories of bad guys are bad. Journalists should never write these.

Stories of good guys are good. All journalists should only write these.


This will revolutionize the print industry! I think we can close this thread now.
posted by JJ86 at 5:48 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


So to summarize:

Stories of bad guys are bad. Journalists should never write these.

Stories of good guys are good. All journalists should only write these.

This will revolutionize the print industry! I think we can close this thread now.
I wasn't the only person to suggest that Tsarnev didn't deserve any attention. But by all means, just keep making your condescending, bad-faith false conclusions about my statement.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:09 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, as the "just world" wouldn't have marathons bombed and innocent people maimed and murdered. We wouldn't know his name because he'd be, like, a local wrestler or something.

I understand that angle but have a difficult time that this was actually the argument. Anything bad or unusual happens and our response is in a different world there would be no crime, nothing bad would happen, etc. Ok, so and?
posted by juiceCake at 6:20 AM on July 18, 2013


People whose only response is "we must ignore them completely except when we are killing them dead" aren't engaging in serious thought on the matter.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:40 AM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


PXE2000 said: I wasn't the only person to suggest that Tsarnev didn't deserve any attention.

Obviously you weren't, but the mass of suggestions saying the same thing are naive and silly. When in the history of mankind has this been done? In the history of print these stories have been the lead and have sparked outrage and horror since as long as I can remember. Rolling Stone hasn't done anything different than has been done millions of times before for probably thousands of years. Not printing these articles will not magically make these incidents disappear or make the world a happy place.

You and the Mayor of Boston need to put your outrage in the proper place.
posted by JJ86 at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Dial it back from making this personal, folks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:06 AM on July 18, 2013


I think the Wenner-spawn is in charge of the website; Daddy still runs the paper version.
posted by Renoroc at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2013


People whose only response is "we must ignore them completely except when we are killing them dead" aren't engaging in serious thought on the matter.

People who quote things that were never said aren't engaging in serious thought on the matter.
posted by rocket88 at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, y'all. If you haven't read the article, you shuold. It's a really well done piece that manages to get the tone just right.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:41 AM on July 18, 2013


People who quote things that were never said aren't engaging in serious thought on the matter.

You knew that wasn't presented as though it were a real quote from this thread, but that sentiment is unambiguously expressed by several posters in this thread.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2013


I think most objections to this, including mine, aren't about this specific criminal or this specific crime, or even this specific article. We object to the general trend of making celebrities out of mass murderers and assassins.
I'm saddened by the fact that I know the names and faces of at least a dozen mass murderers thanks to media coverage, but I probably couldn't name or identify a single one of their victims. Articles like this, no matter how good they are, add to that problem.
posted by rocket88 at 7:46 AM on July 18, 2013


Articles like this, no matter how good they are, add to that problem.

Really? The article? The cover, sure, but...really?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, what we need is his favorite picture of himself, taken by himself looking oh-so cute that thousands of young girls have already embraced the notion of "too cute to be guilty,"

HE'S DANGEROUSLY SEXY, PEOPLE, PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTERS AND SHIELD THEM FROM THIS SELFIE
posted by Hoopo at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Articles like this, no matter how good they are, add to that problem.

So you agree with Steve, then.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2013


No, because the article you linked has nothing at all to do with this. Harper criticized Justin Trudeau for comments he made about the bombing that, as far as I know, never mentioned either of the bombers' names.
The RS article, however, names him over 100 times.
posted by rocket88 at 8:00 AM on July 18, 2013


Naming him per se does not give him mystical powers.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


yea it's not like Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror.
posted by sweetkid at 8:25 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll reframe.

Imagine after 9/11 had Rolling Stone photo shopped guitars into the hands of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and maybe a set of drumsticks into the crossed arms of another of the conspirators and put them on the cover.

Granted, they didn't need to do that with Tsnarev's picture - he already had a rockstar pose and good looks. My point is - it isn't about the looks, its about the framing. I don't care that he's attractive - I care that they glorified the attacker in the same manner that they could have glorified Willie Nelson, Jay-Z, or Gary Clark Jr - their reluctant guitar hero.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:28 AM on July 18, 2013


Naming him per se does not give him mystical powers.

Uh...sure, I guess it doesn't, but what do "mystical powers" (really? WTF?) have to do with anything being argued in this thread?
Do you dispute that having his name printed multiple times in a fairly popular national magazine article adds to his celebrity and fame?
posted by rocket88 at 8:36 AM on July 18, 2013


Imagine after 9/11 had Rolling Stone photo shopped guitars into the hands of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and maybe a set of drumsticks into the crossed arms of another of the conspirators and put them on the cover. Granted, they didn't need to do that with Tsnarev's picture - he already had a rockstar pose and good looks. My point is - it isn't about the looks, its about the framing.

Where are you seeing "framing" in an instance of a magazine using a picture as-is?

Unless you're saying that Tsarnaev is just inherantly too pretty to be taken seriously as a bad guy? If that's the case - have you considered that that's maybe not only the point of the article - the fact that that kind of thinking is dangerously naive - but may also have been one of the points behind putting that picture on the cover?

And plenty of other media did put pictures of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Osama Bin Laden or other folks on the covers of their magazines after 9/11. No one said a peep. Not even New Yorkers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Rolling Stone is showing that no matter how you look, you can still be a terrorist/mass murder. There has been a lot of talk about the racial profiling young black men in hoodies, it's seems laughable to complain about a terrorist looking a certian way.

I'm sorry, but the "lesson" Rolling Stone is preaching is dull and banal. Anyone who thinks about these issues already knows this. What insight did the readers of the this article gain? What greater truth did any reader learn? I'm not asking you to think about some abstract reader, just to ask yourself how the article contributed to your understanding of domestic terrorism, or disenfranchised youth or whatever.

A cover of Rolling Stone is a celebrity coup. I'll bet the subject is thrilled.
posted by feste at 8:45 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but the "lesson" Rolling Stone is preaching is dull and banal. Anyone who thinks about these issues already knows this.

If this were true, you wouldn't be categorizing the cover photo as a "celebrity coup" and we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you dispute that having his name printed multiple times in a fairly popular national magazine article adds to his celebrity and fame?

I suppose it does, but insisting that he not be named does not make sense, unless you are looking to ban all discussion of him from the media.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:56 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I'm not looking to ban anything. And in reporting the crime itself, it's important that the suspected perpetrators be named. But I want to encourage media to reduce their biographical and "Inside the mind of..." articles that I see as contributing to their celebrity and to possible fame-driven copycat incidents. Newspapers don't report local suicides for similar reasons. Do you disagree with that policy as well?

This kind of thing is demand-driven. The RS article is most definitely responding to a public thirst for details about this guy. People want to know all about his background, his social life, and his possible motivations. If you're one of those people, then, as I see it, you (directed at no one in particular) are part of the problem.
posted by rocket88 at 9:10 AM on July 18, 2013


Oh, FFS, the entire point of using that particular photo on the cover, when combined with the (actually pretty great, and comprehensive) story on the inside, which details how he descended into a jihadist mindset, was to point out how terrorism is not some weird thing perpetrated by outsiders, or The Other, or some other Scary Radical Muslims, but that it can equally end up being perpetrated by someone who has – and the article bears this out – been fully assimilated into American culture, as far as his entire social circle knows.

Weird. It's almost as if there is some group of people that have a vested interest in not piercing that particular veil.

Naaah.
posted by gern at 9:15 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weird. It's almost as if there is some group of people that have a vested interest in not piercing that particular veil.

This expresses such contempt toward people that object to the cover. Do you think I have a vested interest in othering terrorists? Really? Do you think that I'm interested in suppressing information, because I want people to think all terrorists are old and ugly?
posted by feste at 9:21 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Newspapers don't report local suicides for similar reasons. Do you disagree with that policy as well?

Yes.
posted by kagredon at 9:22 AM on July 18, 2013


The RS article is most definitely responding to a public thirst for details about this guy. People want to know all about his background, his social life, and his possible motivations.

His possible motivations are pretty goddamn important unless you don't care about heading off future such attacks.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Rolling stone is a magazine people aspire to be on the cover of. If you appear on the cover of time there is an equally likely chance you are on it because of how awesome you are and how horrible you are.

Even when RS puts a whiny musician who is known to be a pain to work with - one I may despise, I still have to respect their musical talent and magnanimous personality.

Tsanarev is in no way worthy of respect in that same manner.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I said elsewhere, I think the article is making the point that sometimes, the terrorist asshole looks just like the latest boy pop sensation instead of the ugly bogeyman we expect or even want. I'm really torn about this; on the one hand, the point needs to be made. On the other hand, yuck. But I think that's the point; we say "yuck" because we don't want someone who allegedly did such an awful thing to look so . . . normal. Not bad looking. Cute, sexy even (to some). It's the cognitive dissonance, and it forces us to examine our own feelings and prejudices in a way that makes a lot of people really uncomfortable. It's easier to just hate him.

I don't know. I could be reading too much into a naked grab for magazine sales, but Rolling Stone is a well-respected magazine with some outstanding writers; I'm pretty sure the editors were very well aware of what they were doing with this cover. I'd argue it's working on all levels.
posted by jennaratrix at 10:01 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


His motivations are meaningless. Everyone has causes they believe in. Most of us don't kill innocent kids over them.
The article is morbid entertainment. If that's your thing, then enjoy.
posted by rocket88 at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did you read the article, rocket88?
posted by kagredon at 11:53 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nanukthedog: Rolling stone is a magazine people aspire to be on the cover of. If you appear on the cover of time there is an equally likely chance you are on it because of how awesome you are and how horrible you are.

At this point in time, Rolling Stone has been publishing far better, far more important investigative journalism than Time magazine for at least 20 years, if not longer.

rocket88: His motivations are meaningless.

Well, yes, that's true if you don't think that there's any point in examining why people feel justified in bombing public events and killing and maiming people in the process, in order to, you know, understand how they work, and cut down on the instances of people bombing public events and killing and maiming people in the process. Because, of course, that would be pointless.
posted by Len at 12:49 PM on July 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh and as for people aspiring to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone, I don't think that was ever a primary motivation of the various banking vampires presented as nightmarish illustrations on the cover of RS issues in which Matt Taibbi's articles were running.
posted by Len at 12:51 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


His motivations are meaningless

How can this be possible?
posted by sweetkid at 12:56 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


What insight did the readers of the this article gain? What greater truth did any reader learn?

Plenty. I had no idea about this kid previously. Now I know some things.

For example, there seems to be nothing at all to suggest there is any truth to this:

"A cover of Rolling Stone is a celebrity coup. I'll bet the subject is thrilled"

or that he was somehow out for fame.
posted by Hoopo at 1:49 PM on July 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Perodicticus potto: I believe the figure of speech I was using is known as a "metaphor."
I believe the type of metaphor you were using is known as "tasteless".
posted by IAmBroom at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not that it will load, but that stalwart of journalism Boston Magazine (accurate to the level of CNN) has published the photos taken by Sgt. Sean Murphy (who it appears is on some kind of administrative leave at this time).

CBS has some of the photos, as does CNN and most every other news site.

Many are bloody if you care.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:23 PM on July 18, 2013


One of my favorite Twitterers just addressed this controversy:

@Lowenaffchen
theres a guy on the rolling stone cover who has curly hair and everyone hates him. its the nickelback guy

@Lowenaffchen
I heard theres someone on the rolling stone cover who did a crime that caused hearing damage. Its nickelback

@Lowenaffchen
everyones pissed that the most hated man on earth is on the new rolling stone cover. Its nickelback

@Lowenaffchen
apparently theres someone who got on the rolling stone cover by bombing really hard and making people run away. its the band nickelback

posted by Rory Marinich at 8:18 PM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Naming him per se does not give him mystical powers.

Indeed, it's traditionally been those thought to have mystical powers who cannot be directly named.

I believe the type of metaphor you were using is known as "tasteless".

So?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:29 PM on July 18, 2013


Do you dispute that having his name printed multiple times in a fairly popular national magazine article adds to his celebrity and fame?

I don't actually think it is possible to add to his fame at this point.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:39 PM on July 18, 2013




Boston Wrong
posted by homunculus at 1:35 PM on July 19, 2013


A Death In Florida
posted by homunculus at 12:08 PM on July 24, 2013


My favorite little bit from The Daily Show the other night. Louis CK (who got his start in Boston) was the guest. After some blabla about his movie, they have a little time left and John Oliver asks him "Rolling Stone has called you both 'the funniest comedian in America' and 'a jerkoff genius' Which title would you like on your headstone?" Louis replies with "They put that kid on the cover that blew up Boston, so fuck them I don't care." Crowd goes wild. Clip is here for folks in the US or with decent proxy server access.
posted by jessamyn at 2:53 PM on July 24, 2013


Eh he didn't exactly 'blow up Boston'.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:15 PM on July 24, 2013


Eh comic hyperbole from a professional comic practicing his profession. Don't be a ninny.
posted by cortex at 10:58 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]




Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear?

God that story is so sad. it's haunted me.
posted by sweetkid at 1:22 PM on July 25, 2013


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