On April 15, 2013 two homemade pressure cooker bombs were detonated on Boylston Street in Boston. The bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a yearly event that draws thousands of people from all over the world to the historic city. Three people were killed and nearly three hundred others were injured.
Three days later on April 18th, photographs of the bombers were distributed by the FBI. They were later identified as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The very next day a full scale manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was underway after a shootout that left one MBTA officer injured and his brother Tamerlan dead. By 7 pm the fugitive was in custody.
Plenty has happened since then. Everyday more is discovered about the two brothers, their lives, and their motives. This week Rolling Stone released the cover of its upcoming issue that features an extensive article about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The people of Boston, and wider American audience are not happy. Controversy is swarming around the magazine for glorifying a terrorist on the cover. The issue being the photograph they chose – one of Tsarnaev resembling an indie rock star.
Rolling Stone, like any other magazine is looking for one thing and that is money. They are a business after all. The story they are running with the cover is supposed to be an in depth look on the life of Dzhokhar, highlighting how a popular teen with a promising future became a monster. That alone would spark interest, but like other high caliber magazines, Rolling Stone chose to be controversial. I believe they chose a photo of Dzhokhar that challenges their readers to think about him not as the terrorist he became, but as the person he used to be.
The Boston bombing is a sensitive moment in our history, especially since it happened just a few months ago. Emotions are still high as the city of Boston tries to resume life post tragedy. Before we judge so quickly against the magazine and its controversial cover, remember those that came before it. After all, Time once had a cover depicting Adolf Hitler as “Man of the Year.” Whatever your opinion on the cover is, think about this: it’s not the cover that matters, it’s the story behind it.