Yes. I said Rolling Stone Magazine sucks. Was this a fair thing to say? Probably not, I’ve never read it before. Was it a mature thing to say? Probably not, I’m sure I could have found a more articulate way to convey my distaste for them, but hey, I was supposed to write an attention grabbing title. Is this a statement I, nevertheless, stand by? Yes, and I will go on to support it in this blog post, which I will try to keep brief so as to avoid a rant.
Back in July, Rolling Stone did a piece on the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Rolling Stone, a magazine famous for their rock star oriented stories and cover photos, was audacious enough to not only put Tsarnaev on its cover, but to use an innocent picture of him, along with the title “The Bomber” (presumably their recommendation for the name of the film adaptation). And as if the Tsarnaev photo and cover were just another rock star news story, and not a serious look into a very serious topic, the magazine had text on the side letting the reader know that this issue would have stories about musicians such as Willie Nelson, Jay-Z, and Robin Thicke, in addition to their piece about a murderer.
It’s not just the disrespect that bothers me, though that’s a big part of it. Terrorist attacks are a grave business. When these attacks hurt or kill people, such as in the case of the marathon bombings, it’s important for everyone (especially big media outlets with national recognition) to show respect to those affected. This incident, in particular, hits close to home for me, quite literally. As a resident of Massachusetts, I have no problem calling Boston the best (and most certainly my favorite) city. It’s a place I’ve visited regularly since my childhood. I love it so much I’ve decided to attend school in Boston. At the time of the bombings I hadn’t picked my college yet, but I had been accepted to a few in the city, and my top two choices were there so I was fairly certain I’d be living there at the same time the next year. So obviously it’s unsettling to hear that your future home came under attack. But it was more than my future home. It was my present home, too. My state’s capital, my favorite city. Learning about the bombings gave me a pain the likes of which I don’t know if I’ve felt before. It didn’t help that I was out of the country at the time, on a community service trip in Trinidad with my dad and others from my town. But everyone else I knew was still there. The town my aunt lives in, Newton, was under lockdown. My mother and my siblings went to New York a few days after the bombing. It was later that we heard of the Tsarnaev’s brother’s plans to bomb Time Square. They would have reached the city the same day my family was there.
And about the Tsarnaev brothers, about Dzhokhar. The college they went to, UMASS Dartmouth, was a familiar name when I heard it on the news. I have many friends that go there. My parents earned their undergraduate degrees there. To hear that these men had been residing there was, frankly, scary.
I would blame Rolling Stone for ignorance, but sadly I think they knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted controversy, they wanted attention. Their magazine was all over the news after their story. And that’s what they wanted. It was a marketing ploy. But it was a distasteful one. Did it hurt me personally? No. But I’m sure it hurt the families and friends of those affected by the bombing. So, while I believe in freedom of the press and I believe Rolling Stone had every right to do this, I don’t think they should have.
Sorry, I thought I was going to be brief.