Thursday, August 1, 2013

Congratulations Boston! Your hollow outrage gave Rolling Stone a windfall!

Remember a few weeks ago when everybody in Greater Boston was having a collective brain aneurysm about the Rolling Stone cover featuring Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? There was an online cause to boycott the issue on Facebook that drew 170,000 likes, refusal by some stores to carry it, and general insistence by most of your friends and colleagues that they would never again buy or read a magazine they probably already didn't buy or read. All because Rolling Stone published an issue where they labeled a very normal looking American kid a "monster" and had the audacity to ask "how could this happen?"

How dare you use a picture of a person
looking like a person!
The outrage about this cover was centered not around the terrorist on the cover (we've seen that before), but that the terrorist didn't "look" like a terrorist, but rather like a rock star (or, if you'd prefer it, a semi-attractive normal teenager, which is how most rock stars start out). When bin Laden was on covers of magazines, he was wearing Middle Eastern attire we associate with Islam. Tsarnaev, on the other hand, has messy hair, facial stubble, and a kind of cool t-shirt on. He looks like your kids, and because of that, some people seem to think seeing him will turn kids (not your kids! They're perfect!) into terrorists in the future. Apparently most parents are not confident that their parenting skills can effectively deter their children from blowing up their neighbors when faced with a cover on a magazine that was last relevant when Led Zeppelin was still putting out records.

So folks took to the streets (or the internet) and worked the whole region up into a lather. End result? Rolling Stone's retail circulation doubled!

This reemphasizes the old adage "any press is good press." Talking about this magazine non-stop for days as people did made people who hadn't thought about Rolling Stone in years or ever think about Rolling Stone. Add to this problem that the article itself was actually pretty good, and all the outrage has made Rolling Stone a kind of viable media entity again in things-not-written-by-Matt-Taibbi.

It's cool if they look Muslim.
So let this be a lesson, reactionary citizenry: no matter what you're freaking out about - Rolling Stone, gay marriage, Doc Rivers to LA - outrage about it only encourages people to find out more about what you're talking about. Not only is this result inevitable, it's good for a thinking, informed population. All the outrage about this cover made people think about why it's an outrage. Are we being honest with ourselves when we all flip out about a photo of a person involved in a major news story because he looks like he actually looks? Wouldn't it have been more inappropriate for Rolling Stone to have used some doctored picture of Tsarnaev to make him look evil? And how would it have been better to put the victims on the cover? The story was not about them. It was about how a normal American teenager could turn into a monster. That's a conversation we should be having, and thanks to Rolling Stone, in partnership with Mayor Menino and the people of Boston, now people are having it in a more informed way.


Anonymous said...

This post is foolish. Like we should care that this dying fish wrapper sold a "whopping" 14,000 copies on news stands?

All that says to me is that -- even though it got tons of free publicity over its decision to "victimize" a vermin, scum terrorist -- Rolling Stone even couldn't muster a lousy $70K in sales despite having almost 1,500 retail outlets.

No need to cancel your subscription, Mr. Blogger. RSM will be out of business by the end of the year. It's hemorrhaging because it is an irrelevant publication. Or, maybe ole Jan is praying every day for another terrorist attack?

Karen said...


You're an idiot. If you think this article "victimized" Tsarnaev you clearly didn't read the article. Oh wait- you couldn't read it, you were too busy being afraid of your own shadow.

Matthew Wilding said...

Anon- you're very bold making statements anonymously! I'll be sure to remember you when RS magically folds this December.

And as Karen pointed out, you clearly didn't read the story, and unless I don't understand how they're using "monster" it appears you didn't even read the headline.

Thanks for the trolling, though.

Homey The Clown said...

They glorified this moron. You just can't see past your left wing idealism. Rolling Stone editors are a bunch of dooches.

Matthew Wilding said...

What about this is left wing idealism?

Also, you spelled "douche" wrong.

Homey said...

You are showing love and support for a dirtball Islamic terrorist. This is what all lefties do. Pretty simple don't U think?

Anonymous said...

Come on dude. Admit it. You only wrote this post because you hate America

Matthew Wilding said...

So much love. I emphasized monster. You are killing it, bro!

Rob Bartlett said...

Left wing idealism? This was the free market at work.

Matthew Wilding said...


Clifford Odle said...

All Rolling Stone did was put the subject of their main story on the front cover like other magazines have done with the likes of Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, and Ted Kaczynski. Those with the most outrage are the ones who are truly "glorifying" this guy. They are giving him a power he otherwise would not have had.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Crazy lefty here. If you read the post, you'll see that what he said was that being "outraged" by the cover lead to increased sales AND that the outrage was more visceral than thoughtful because the article doesn't promote, love, or endorse Tsarnaev. For the record I was pissed about the cover only because I didn't think the cover (as opposed to the article) was necessary. They didn't do it with any other news stories like this, as far as I'm aware, and I believe they did it BECAUSE it's a flattering photo and he looks like a rock star.

NONE of these issues mean we're "showing love and support for a dirtball Islamic terrorist." At worst, it means that Matt is putting aside any personal beliefs to express support for a private company to do what it feels is in it's best financial interests. That's how all the neocons think the world should run, so a more apt criticism would be "Way to abandon your so-callled liberal idealism, Matt, and raise the corporate flag. Sell out." (Of course, even that would be nonsense.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is get bent, you reactionary piece of garbage. Try knowing about something before giving an opinion so then everyone can just think you're a tool instead of a moronic tool.