Essay on Analysis : Rolling Stone Magazine

Essay on Analysis : Rolling Stone Magazine

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In August 2013, Rolling Stone magazine’s cover had Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s selfie plastered across it. Other media outlets favored using a mugshot of him or a photo of the incident as opposed to a standard photo of the perpetrator. His long curly hair, goatee, expressionless face, and white t-shirt were on newsstands across the nation. This was met with huge backlash especially from the Boston community. Massachusetts State Police sergeant Sean Murphy said that the image was “glamorizing the face of terror” (Boston Magazine, July 18th, 2013). Retailers pulled the issue from their shelves and some (such as BJ’s Wholesale Club) ended their ties with Rolling Stone entirely. Many believed that Tsarnaev’s long curly hair and goatee made him to look like a rock star, and by having him on the cover of a magazine that has historically put rock stars on its cover, Rolling Stone is giving Tsarnaev the classic “rock star treatment.” Ed Kelly, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, told CNN that “[Tsarnaev] gave up any innocence he had on April 15…It disturbs us that the media chooses to celebrate it” (“it” being his loss of innocence) (CNN). Average citizens took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their opposition to the photo. In fact, “Boycott Rolling Stone” became a trending topic on Twitter the day the edition of the magazine released on newsstands (International Business Times).
Normally, criminals and controversial figures tend to have the photos of them that perpetuate a negative image spread by the media; however, in this case, it is almost an uncomfortably attractive picture: one we should be repulsed by but are not. When we see this selfie, it makes us uncomfortable because it makes the terr...


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...e” pictures on the cover but they are not snapshots as they often do not show the celebrity in his or her glory. This same idea pertains to Rolling Stone as we would never see the selfie of a terrorist on the cover of a magazine that had Johnny Depp on its cover the issue before the Tsarnaev issue. The hegemon in this case is tradition set by mainstream media where candid, raw, unedited, private photos or snapshots are not to be on magazine covers mainly due to the fact that oftentimes, we fail to humanize public figures so by only showing these grand and gorgeous images of them, we continue to put them on a pedestal or believe they are almost from a different world. In Tsarnaev’s case, he is often shown as if he is from a different, darker, world when in fact the counter hegemonic private-made-public image shows us that he is from the same world as the rest of us.

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