Saturday, July 20, 2013

Shock Journalism

The now infamous pretty-boy selfie that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young man accused of being behind April's Boston Marathon bombings, once took, made its way onto the cover of the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine this week.  The relaxed portrait is an ugly characterization for a terrorist and murderer; frankly, we prefer our hate-filled terrorists to look like monsters instead of models. 

The Rolling Stone obviously picked this photo to illustrate its story that something about this kid's life doesn't add up; Dzhokhar doesn't fit the typical profile of a terrorist.  He was just a "normal" American teenager.  But the other side of that same coin is that their cover doesn't add up either; the cover photo is telling the happiest part of a story with an incredibly sad and tragic ending.  The photo, as a perfectly clean image (unlike the Charles Manson cover to which it's being compared and justified against), feels a bit like glorification.

I don't think actually intended to glorify a terrorist as much as they wanted to tell a compelling story.  But compelling stories doesn't have to be sold; they merely have to be told.  

UPDATE:  Not surprising, in the end, the magazine benefits from the hype they created.  

No comments: