I doubt I will win many friends over this one, but this week’s Rolling Stone cover does not bother me. OK, it does, but only because it has nothing to do with the music industry. Neither did the one featuring Johnny Depp however, that is a rant for another Friday. (Please respect the fact that I AM sensitive to this issue and will refrain from mentioning the individual’s name or the event the person is connected with and allow me the forum in which to post my personal opinion without a lot of hateful comments…I have bit my tongue over issues I disagree with but that my friends/colleagues are passionate about…I deserve the same courtesy)
This is not the first time RS featured a “monster” on its cover. Remember the year they featured Charles Manson? While the lack of Internet and social media makes it impossible to know for sure how that cover was received, I am willing to bet that there were equal amounts of scorn and intrigue as some felt it “glamorized” the Tate/LaBianca murders while others couldn’t wait to read the in depth look into the mind of a mad man. Is this week’s cover really any different?
What about this cover from Time? Now I have seen similar “kids with guns” pictures posted by my friends on Facebook beating the drums about their Second Amendment rights. However some of these same people now shake their fists at the “travesty” of the RS cover a causing me to wonder since when the Constitution became an ala carte menu? Yes, I believe in responsibly executing our First Amendment rights and after having read the article in its entirety…that’s exactly what RS did. They didn’t send a camera crew into a jail cell for a flashy photo shoot. They used a self-portrait that has been circulating the Internet for months. That’s journalism 101, folks. Use a photo that captures your subject in his or her natural state. (Mug shots, generally do not apply) They did not interview the kid directly, but created a portrait of someone to offer insight into their actions. Who doesn’t want to know why a seemingly “good” person goes bad? (And by the way, if you lined up to see Star Wars Episode III, you have proved my point.)
Would it be different if the cover came with a more menacing headline/photo? I’ve seen magazine covers that announced “We Got the Bastard,” depicted them with a giant red X on their faces, had their mugs appear as they would if they were on the other end of an infrared targeting scope and yet…I didn’t hear any outrage about those. No one said those were going too far. Why not? I can’t help wondering if some people are bothered by the fact that this individual appears to ordinary to hate?
I hear a lot of people talk about the lack of impartiality in the media and yet, when the media opts to be “fair and balanced” the tide turns. Over the years I have wondered why photos of a dying Princess are considered tacky and déclassé, while a shot of a naked, screaming Vietnamese girl is considered “iconic.” Are both not exploitive in their own way? Who does more to bring attention to it in the long run? Those who print it, or those who make a circus out of criticizing it? Many argue that said individual being on the cover of RS “could” give other people in the demographic ideas. Well….maybe, but on the other hand, it’s more likely that a lot of readers who “might” have skipped over that article entirely will now read every word BECAUSE you’ve gone and made a big deal about it. Seriously people…all you have to do is imply something is controversial and kids will flock to it just to see what all the fuss is about. (Parental warning stickers did wonders for the music industry…made every kid want the album…I’m just sayin’.)
While I would prefer that RS stick with music features (and might have had a cooler cover this week if they did,) the article was solid and they are to be congratulated for their work.
Now…if I could only agree with them on their Greatest Singers of All-Time….HOW is Robert Plant Number 15????