Wednesday, July 17, 2013

He's Hot, He's Sexy, and He's an Alleged Terrorist!

Knee jerk reactions are nothing new.  Humanity constantly jumps to conclusions without seeking out facts, or weighing opinions.  These days, with the internet and Facebook subbing for the public soap box, anyone can react in record time to anything and let the whole world know their opinion.

Rolling Stone Magazine's next issue will feature a cover story on Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Jahar Tsarnaev.  The issue is already causing a firestorm of controversy with folks posting on Twitter and Facebook their outrage.  Some claim that the photo and story glamorizes Tsarnaev and terrorism ( a story I am sure they have not even read ).  Furthermore, if one took the time to peruse the article's title and subtitle, "The Bomber.  How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster", one might understand that that no one is glamorizing Tsarnaev or terrorism ; more than likely, the author will be giving the public the facts on what made an average young man morph into someone who would be drawn to such things as public bombings.

Facts. Both sides of the story.  It's called journalism.

Of course, we can't give R.S. a total free pass on this - the suspect is a good looking kid, and America has always been fascinated by handsome people who turn to a life of crime. Ultimately, the editors probably decided to run this picture because they knew it would provoke and send sales through the roof.

If it bleeds, it leads.  And it also helps if it's photogenic.

Then again, there is also the fact that many people today fail to recall when Rolling Stone was something more than just a glossy PR rag that featured any one hit wonder on the cover.   There was a time, long ago, when RS was part of what was known as "the alternative or underground press".  And, while music was its bread and butter; politics, crime and various other subjects were covered within the pages (to be fair, RS still manages an occasional journalistic masterpiece - for instance, there was the piece on General Stanley McChrystal who lost his job after he was profiled for RS where he mocked Vice President Joe Biden, amongst others).

But let's get back to that cover.

Many don't seem to understand what this picture is doing on the cover of a magazine they consider nothing more than a music periodical.

Obviously, they've never seen this issue of Rolling Stone:
Why didn't the editors put Sharon Tate's picture on the cover, or any of the other victims of Manson and his followers? 

And then there was the time that Patty Hearst was portrayed as a bastardized Andrew Wyeth model.

Or how about the Roman Polanski cover - about the famous director's escape from the U.S. on child molestation charges?

So you see, it's nothing new.  In fact many magazines feature criminals and despots on their covers - and those issues, usually become bestsellers.  Does it mean that the writer and the editors are sympathizing with the bad guys?   Usually not, but it does move units.

So, before you get on your high horse over the latest issue of Rolling Stone (the one you have not even read yet). Take a deep breath and ask yourself exactly what you are getting so wound up over.  Then ask yourself , what would you have done if you landed an interview with one of the most hated men in America?  Whose picture would you have used to play up that article? 

Oh and don't worry America, I am sure that the follow up issue of Rolling Stone will feature a cover story about Justin Bieber; and you can get back to ignoring the  publication you did before.