Like a Rolling Boner

I don’t read Rolling Stone magazine, but know people who do. Apparently, it is still primarily about music, along with topical issues to broaden their audience and keep the interest of their readers. I am all for a comprehensive magazine. That is why I don’t look at my husband’s Playboy with disdain. They really do have some great articles and interviews in there, especially their Political Forum. Plus, it is fun to locate the bunny logo on the cover.

Even with my musical background, I don’t usually pay attention to Rolling Stone. I might notice the cover if I pass it on the newsstand. Usually, a musician is on there, hence, the main purpose of the magazine. Dylan (whose classic song I punned in the title), Hendrix, Clapton, Page . . . those are the faces, and others of that ilk, I expect to see. Even actors have graced the cover, and that’s okay. My expectation was upset when Taylor Swift and her wind-blown hair were featured. She can barely play the sparkly acoustic guitar she was cradling in that photo, much less be presented in the same fashion as the musical icons who preceded her. Still, for all intents and purposes, she is making music, albeit mediocre at best. She is popular and Rolling Stone was catering to a growing segment of their readership. Understandable. 

I am, however, struggling with the impetus of plastering the younger, surviving Boston Marathon bomber’s face on the most recent cover. I won’t even print his name here, much less the image. Part of it is laziness; I don’t feel like pulling the photo and saving it to upload here. Also, I struggle with retaining names of Eastern origin. The other part is principle. I just won’t do it. I can’t bother myself to expend the effort to remember the pronunciation or the spelling of his name. I won’t even use it as a tag for this blog for search purposes. Why? Because, he does not deserve even an iota of energy, not by me nor by any other citizen of this country. He exposed himself to a dangerous ideology, and he acted on it. It could be argued that he wouldn’t have wrought the same havoc on his own. It does not matter. He was a willing participant, went into hiding, and eventually ran from the law. He knew right from wrong. He chose the latter, and for that, he should pay dearly. 

He certainly should not be rewarded for his despicable actions. So, what does landing on the cover of a popular, long-running magazine in the space normally reserved for actual musical greats, do? It sounds like he got his proverbial 15 minutes, and then some. He came to this country early enough to be Americanized.  He should know the magazine and its place in the annals of history. Is he shamed that his mug is splayed on a periodical that has a circulation of about 1.5 million readers, and quite possibly, could increase for this issue? Does he feel remorse for what he did after such exposure? Or more likely, does he think he has arrived and was granted the right of passage? He has been immortalized before Allah could reward him with 72 (give or take) virgins. 

Perhaps I am overstating this. Rolling Stone did put Charles Manson on a cover back during his heyday in 1970. Never mind that he was a surprisingly gifted musician (if only he got a record contract). He became famous for being a sociopath, and Rolling Stone hopped on that bandwagon. What is done is done. Somehow, this latest foray into newsworthy journalism displayed an unprecedented lack of judgment. 

In their defense, the article is apparently well-researched. At least, that is what I have heard; I don’t intend to read it. He is also referred to as a “monster” on the cover. That is where my support ends.  That same blurb lends a note of sympathy as a “promising student” whose “family failed him.” So now what? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him? 

I painted that with a broad brush intentionally. The powers that be must have momentarily forgotten their influence. It is not an irrational speculation that other troubled youths heading on a wayward path would see this, and be envious. For better or worse, that would be the aforementioned arrival and right of passage. “I got on the cover of Rolling Stone. Score!” Something to ponder the next time we are inclined to glorify a demon. 

What would the response be if Playboy magazine put this punk on the cover in lieu of their usual Playmate? That would be out of place, despite their excellent journalism within. Maybe they would hide the logo in his mass of curly, black hair, vexing their most determined readers to stare at his mug until the bunny was found, thus burning his image into their retinas. That’s marketing genius, right there. I guarantee that Mr. Hefner would have some explaining to do. 

Certainly, we must know our enemies and understand why they become that way, so that we—as a collective—are better armed to stop it before it starts. Knowledge is power and all that. I get it. But, it is all in the presentation, and perhaps Rolling Stone is not the one to reveal this insight, given the likelihood that the original mission of the magazine was music and advertising its star power. I don’t know why I think that. It could be their name that has popped up in a couple of tunes, maybe one rock group. Just a theory. 

Here is another one: they may gain readers with this, but they might want to avoid the loss of their existing ones if they just stick to what they know.

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About Diane Bushemi

My name is Diane and am an aspiring artist, songwriter, and fiction writer. While I currently make my living in a rather safe manner as a manager in an accounting department, it is merely to feed what I am really passionate about. I have been blessed with the ability to express myself creatively, and somewhat plagued with the aptitude in more than one artistic medium. My life is a constant juggling act to fulfill all the basic needs with the less tangible ones, i.e., those necessary to live and the ones that remind me that I'm alive.

Posted on July 17, 2013, in Popular and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I took the cover in a slightly different way. The image, in my opinion, is used to reflect Dzokhar’s (yes, I used his name) vision of himself, a misunderstood rock star. It is an image he tweeted out himself several months before the bombing and though it’s getting less attention, the image in question was also used by the New York Times in the days following the marathon tragedy. For my part I am going to read the article as I too have heard it is exceedingly well done. The “monster” fashioned himself a would-be icon, in the style of Manson, as you mentioned. The image was used to start a discussion and generate sales. Indeed it has done both.

    • I get that. But, I strongly suspect that most people seeing this would not put that kind of thought into it. Given the outcry, many are interpreting it the same way as I did. It was a risk, for sure, and they must be taken sometimes. I believe there are unfortunate consequences here, and the cons out-weigh the pros.

  2. thank you for the insight. I saw the cover – on the news, fb, somewhere – and didn’t give it a second thought. I’m not a magazine subscriber (does “family fun” count?), so I don’t invest a lot of time or thought into them. so, again, thank you for the breakdown.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I have found opinions (or none) run the gamut. I just can’t get on board with the view that it isn’t an issue. Rolling Stone can certainly cover news and print that article; it is just the choice of putting him on the cover and making him look like a rockstar that has so many in an uproar.

  1. Pingback: 15 Minutes to Immortality: Journalistic integrity and right to control information flow - IWPA

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