I’m sure if you heard the name Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, most of you would immediately know who I was talking about. The current suspect for the Boston bombings, this man is hated by many Americans, I believe rightfully so. But just as everyone began to forget about Tsarnaev and move on to some other gruesome, hysteric headline, he came back into the spotlight.
The August issue of Rolling Stone Magazine will feature Tsarnaev on the cover, accompanied with a story about how “A Popular, Promising Student… Became a Monster.” What has really irked people isn’t the article itself, but the picture of the bomber on the cover looking like a rock star.
As a result, some retailers are refusing to sell the latest issue and it is inevitable that many may not buy some copies as a result of the controversial cover. The Boston mayor even wrote an angry letter Rolling Stone, claiming that the “cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment,” and that the people who really deserve the cover are “the survivors of the Boston attacks.”
While the mayor’s message is moving, I felt it was a bit overly dramatic. The image itself isn’t new at all. Quite frankly, I don’t see what’s wrong with putting it on the cover of a magazine. Is it “sensationalizing” a terrorist? Maybe. But since when is this a new idea? People have been fascinated with criminals for centuries. Endless books have been written about famous serial killers, notorious gangsters and various other criminals. So what I don’t understand is why people are so shocked by this cover. Magazines like Rolling Stone aren’t the ones to blame for sensationalizing crime; its news stations like CNN and FOX that endlessly stream one morbid event after another that force us to be fascinated with men like Tsarnaev. And as peoples’ attention spans get shorter and shorter, a controversial cover means a successful cover. One may recall the Time article featuring the woman breastfeeding a grown boy; and Adolf Hitler was even named “Man of the Year” by Time in 1939.
I believe that what people are actually scared of is the fact that Tsarnaev looks nice a normal, even attractive young man in this photograph. And in my opinion that is the whole point of the article. If the image was a mug shot, then no one would bat an eye, despite the fact that this would still be sensationalizing a criminal.
Regardless of the relevance of the article, people need to open their eyes to the real issues going on not only in America, but in the world. Global issues take precedence, as heartless as that sounds. Obsessing over the cover of the magazine shows how narrow our focus has really become.