Rolling Stone Publishes Yet Another Controversial Cover

Rolling Stone Publishes Yet Another Controversial Cover

Rolling Stone magazine is receiving a sizable amount of backlash over their decision to use a "selfie" of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bomber, on the cover. One of the more shared opinions is that this is glamorizing and creating a celebrity out of an [allegedly] horrible individual; Rolling Stone is typically fond of using musicians and actors on their covers. Perhaps, though, the more troubling complaint is that the cover was "uninspired."

The magazine is no stranger to a controversial cover. They've published Britney Spears (at 17) in a bra, in bed...


They've dressed Kanye West up as Jesus....


But probably the closest comparison of the Tsarnaev cover would be this one of Charles Manson...

manson which it wasn't so much the content of the article, but the presentation - it came off with the same visual impact as a poster for a rock concert.

It could probably be argued that many people who are quick to call for a boycot of the magazine aren't fully aware of the serious journalism that Rolling Stone is actually known for. Their presentation may have a lot of flash, but their content is equally as hard-hitting - going back decades with the likes of legedary writers like Hunter S. Thompson.

As far as the argument about glamorizing Tsarnaev, the article reads, "The Bomber. How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster." Calling someone a "monster" is hardly positive. The article itself seeks to try to understand how a horror like this could happen.

Let's also not forget that this image has been published before on the cover of the New York Times.


What do you think?

Image: Handout image of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of August 1 issue of Rolling Stone magazine

Via CNN, USA Today, and The Washington Post

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Previous comments

I'm not suggesting an AK47 or turban - how about one where he's bloody and battered on the street getting arrested instead?

We've seen that on the news and in the papers though, this is the other side of the story. The backstory.

He would still be on the cover of Rolling Stone. There would still be prestige in that, crazy though that might seem.

...or lying in his hospital bed?

Again, we've seen that depiction. The article isn't about what happened after he was arrested. It's about his life before everything.

"Rolling Stone Publishes Yet Another Controversial Cover" And so does Fstoppers, for even publishing the cover and article. Don't give him the fame.

I admit, I am a little puzzled by why Fstoppers chose this as an article at all.

Steve, you know exactly why, right? Was that a rhetorical statement? click, click, click. They might as well swell off the traffic as well.

Who took this photo?
And did they properly attain it without violating copyright?


Lets not forget that the most evil people of our time have made covers of prestigious magazines over the decades: Hitler, Osama, Saddam, and even Darth Vader. All those guys grace 'Time' magazine. Manson was also on 'Life' ... So, this stuff is nothing new and nearly as old as the magazines themselves.

The problem is...those guys LOOKED like terrorists. This guy...looks normal. People are bummed that he looks normal. "Can you get me a picture of this guy in a turban or something? or with an AK in his hand going through some terrorist camp?" Then, it would have been OK to put him on the cover....but, screw journalistic integrity. People are upset that the image of this guy in their heads is different than real life.

The Oklahoma City bomber looked like a normal guy and he's got a 'Time' cover as well.
And what makes someone "look" like a terrorist? All these guys were wearing the clothing of their local culture and time. Beards? Mustaches?
Our very own US Presidents had facial hair.

But, you're right: people are upset that this guy isn't the poster boy of what we label as a terrorist. But the reality is: he is.

Antonio Carrasco's picture

Well, like it or not, this has gotten everyone to talk about Rolling Stone again, which was all but forgotten in the past few years.

Patryk M's picture

Hello guys!! Remember RollingStone is NOT the same as TIMES Magazine.

Today I learned that certain magazines only have the right to write about certain things. Huh. Who knew! It's a good thing TIME doesn't put musicians on the cover ever!!

Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Kanye West, Duke Ellington, etc.

I was being facetious and sarcastic. Springsteen was on the cover of both Rolling Stone AND Time at the same time actually.

It's hard to tell nowadays without facial expressions or intonations to take cues from. And there are just some people on the Net that are *that* dumb.
The ambiguity of text-based communications ... -_-

I think OhBoy was being sarcastic, Daniel .. jus sayin

Actually, dumbass, Rolling Stone has had some of the hands down, best, non-music, thought provoking journalistic articles to ever be published ANYWHERE. But, since you are obviously just another me-me-me millennial, you would never be able to grasp the concept.

Patryk M's picture

Paul. No need to disrespect me. This is why people don't hear you when you talk to them like that.

Really. Not 100% sure, but I think there might just be a little bit of irony in there.

Your exact words to someone else above.....

Stop.... Your being a baby just talking not making any sense.

Lack of grammar aside, perhaps you should have actually read and digested his comments.

NO ONE IS REWARDING this monster by putting a picture from years ago on the cover of RS. Nobody is giving him money, or TV time, or even interview time. So called "Fame" is complete BS. Nobody in their right mind thinks Manson got "fame" from his cover photo. Nor the Unibomber, or McViegh or any other monster throughout history. You would probably bitch about any picture, regardless of the fact that the article speaks volumes about the entire subject matter, which you obviously did not read, or else you wouldn't make asinine comments about a simple cover photo.

Fact of the matter is, I think the guy IS guilty, but he has not had his trial yet, in accordance with our laws, so in no way has all information pro or con about his actions/reasonings been brought to light.

Quote from the RS editors: The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. –THE EDITORS

Read more:

Bottom line in all of this: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We must, as a society learn the WHYs, so as to prevent the end results from happening again.

Patryk M's picture

You and the rest who think this is OK are all LOST people. How about you put the people who died on the front cover? Instead you put a terrorist.

No, we are not. We are the rational ones, not ruled by some idiotic rage. Did you not even read my (and basically Rolling Stones) last line......

One more time for the obviously slow and mentally deficient (that means lacking, by the way)

We MUST, as a society, learn WHY people (even monsters) act as they do, in order to identify the cause, so we may try and prevent the past from repeating itself.

How else is a respected magazine (and yes, regardless of your simple opinion, RS is a respected magazine worldwide) supposed to open discourse on a topic without drawing attention to the subject matter.

Patryk M's picture

You ignorant idiot. You and rolling Stone own the people and victims an apology. True Americans do not reward terrorism.

Just one question: are there any other photos of "the bomber"? I mean, the article seem to be interesting for the story that is containing... If they decide to talk about Tsatnaev it is an obvius consecuence to treat it as a cover many other Tsarnaev's portraits are there available?

(Plus it makes you sell copies...but that's what they do!!)

Read the article - you dont even need to buy the mag.

The cover is an Instagram'ed selfie. who doesnt have that picture. its normal. thats the point. If the cover is the only thing you debate relating to Rolling Stones treatment of Tsarnaev, your an Idiot. the kind who would be chearing in the colloseum as Rome collapsed around them.

Everyone take your happy pill, jump on the Disney express and set up camp at I-Live-In-A-Fantasy-World-Where-There-Is-No-Negative-Newsville where everyone just wants to hear the good ... The Bad and Ugly can be hidden and not shared with society. Besides, who really wants to know the REST of the story ... meh!

Don't tell me about this bomber, I already have an image in my head and I don't want you to change that with facts and journalism. LALALALALLA I can't hear you LALALALA.

Mayor Menino sent a public letter to Rolling Stone pretty much putting them in their place.

I am from Boston and had friends injured in the attack and am severely disappointed with Rolling Stone's choice for their cover... I think the Mayor puts it really in perspective, it should be the first responders or civillians who helped or even the injred who should be on the cover.

But, uh...the article isn't about the first responders. It's about the life of the bomber and how he went from a 19yr old kid who took an Instagram selfie, to a monster. So, I'd say the photo is pretty fitting... but, hey, screw journalism or journalistic integrity.

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