Rolling Stone has taken the phrase “bad boy” to a whole new level.
Featured on the latest cover of the mag is Boston Marathon bomber suspect Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev, whose picture has been softened and almost beautified to look like a troubled, attractive young man whose past simply “failed" him.
In “How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster,” author Janet Reitman describes this “monster” quite differently, using phrases such as “charming,” “tousle-haired boy,” “pillow soft kid,” “girls went a little crazy over him,” “that dude you could always just vibe with” and “so sweet."
The story is, according to Rolling Stone, “heartbreaking.”
You know what’s even more heartbreaking? How Rolling Stone can even think about turning an alleged murderer into a rock star by plastering his “soulful brown eyes” on the front page and claiming it’s all in the name of journalism as part of the magazine’s “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day," according to the editors.
This isn’t thoughtful. This is outrageous.
What’s even more baffling is how this story got approved. Someone had to propose the idea. Someone had to approve it. Someone had to find the photo of Jahar Tsarnaev and edit it for the cover. Someone had to write a story that they thought would be a great selling point for Americans.
The controversy now involves Boston cop Sgt. Sean Murphy, who is facing an internal investigation after releasing to Boston Magazine several disturbing images of Tsarnaev, whom he calls “evil,” which he feels depict the "real Boston bomber, not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”
I’ve always thought of Rolling Stone as the magazine that shouts, “Congratulations! You’ve made it.” Celebrities see it as a huge honor to be selected for the cover. It’s a huge milestone in their careers. It usually means they’ve achieved something great.
Does this mean that creating an act of terror is now considered something great here in the United States?
People like Jahar Tsarnaev and his brother have no doubt lived very, very troubled lives. They face challenges many of us will never know or comprehend. According to Rolling Stone, Tsarnaev’s brother Tamerlan once told his mother that he felt he had “two people” inside him.
As the daughter of a psychiatrist, I’ve learned a great deal about mental illness from my father. According to the Rolling Stone article, Tamerlan’s mother allegedly confided in a friend that she thought her son should see a psychiatrist, but her friend believed that religion would be the cure for his inner demons and growing mental instability.
That is what’s heartbreaking to me. Mental illness is no joke. It’s extremely serious and very real. And coupled with religious extremism, it can turn someone into a “monster.”
Even if there was mental illness involved (is that not often the case for these types of mass murders?), the act, the result and the person should not be glorified and most certainly not glamorized as I believe Rolling Stone has done for Tsarnaev in “The Bomber” story.
“So what do you say to future musicians?” asks Greg Gutfeld on Fox News’ “The Five.” “The cover used to be something to shoot for, now it’s something to bomb for. Because why do people blow things up? For recognition. Rolling Stone validates that principle. And people who praise the mag fail to see how modern pop culture softens evil in the name of cool especially if it has a sexy pout.”
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.