Rolling Stone nails it with its Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cover

Rolling Stone cover
Rolling Stone magazine’s controversial cover last year featuring Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

Apparently, things are worse than we thought: We have run out of rock ’n’ roll musicians.

How else to explain the latest cover of Rolling Stone, which features not the Rolling Stones -- or even Captain Hook -- but accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

And not only that: Many have noticed and commented on -- unfavorably -- that the magazine’s cover photo “casts the bombing suspect in an inappropriately flattering light,” as my colleague Mikael Wood reported.

Well, gee, folks, welcome to 21st century America.


In today’s world, looks do matter; after all, it’s apparently one of the factors that led to Trayvon Martin being shot and killed -- and his killer, George Zimmerman, being acquitted

Plus, in Tsarnaev’s case, his looks have been as much a part of the story for some people as his alleged crime. From Charlotte Allen’s op-ed article in The Times, “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his fangirls,” to Alexandra Le Tellier’s Opinion L.A. blog post on the subject, “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his disgusting fangirls,” we’ve gotten a glimpse into the dark side of Americans’ obsession with celebrity-hood.

Let’s just say it’s not a pretty picture.

But trashing Rolling Stone for its cover photo? C’mon. Magazine covers are meant to be provocative; they’re meant to sell magazines. (Who can forget the infamous Time magazine cover featuring a darkened photo of O.J. Simpson?) In Rolling Stone’s case, it’s mission accomplished.


Personally, I think the juxtaposition of the photo with the headline, “The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster,” is perfect. Doesn’t it capture what we all want to know: How did this angelic-looking young man morph into an (alleged) terrorist?

George W. Bush had his “axis of evil.” And periodically, Americans obsess over the latest “face of evil.” Once it was Charles Manson. After Sept. 11, it was Osama bin Laden.

And you may recoil at his face, but now it’s Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.


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