The Rolling Stone Cover of Jahar is a Selfie

18 Jul

One thing first: I am not personally irritated or angry at Rolling Stone for writing an article on Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev, but that is not to say that I don’t understand the outrage over their cover.  

I’ve read a few articles from prestigious magazines that are bewildered at the outrage; one from the New Yorker, one from National Geographic, and they are so incredulous that I feel that they must be lying. Surely, the New Yorker and National Geographic magazines understand the power of images set alongside words? One small pose changed from one photo to another can change the entire meaning of a photoshoot.

A lot of people have pointed to the cover of Charles Manson as a defense, but it isn’t much of a defense because that cover is so weird. Charles Manson looks like an insane elder God, but Jahar’s cover photo is normal, even attractive. Rolling Stone detractors have called the photo “giving him the rock star treatment” and what they are describing is real because the photo is a selfie.

The selfie is a culturally important thing. It’s how a person fully represents themselves. The selfie usually captures the best assets of a person. When you take a selfie you have to have the right lighting, the right pout, the right hair. You probably take a hundred photos until you find the right one.

By depicting Jahar via his selfie, Rolling Stone magazine has given him a kind of glamorous power that usually isn’t afforded to terrorists and would-be terrorists, and you can’t help but wonder if they would have done the same had he not look like what he looks like.

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