People are capable of some really horrible shit; some really heinous things. We see it everyday. It’s not always found in “grand gestures of evil,” or anything so hyperbolic. Our carelessness, and lack of empathy can be just as detrimental. The way we interact and engage with people have a type of ripple effect. The way you treat someone, or talk to a person, possibly could effect how they treat the next person they encounter, and so on and so forth. There’s a context for everything. Nothing happens without a long series of life experience/choices occurring. Our entire lives are always leading to exactly whatever it is we’re doing right now, and the decisions we’re going to make. There’s always reasons, and don’t confuse that with “excuses” either. Sometimes, we can do monstrous thing, but we still have to keep living as what we are. People. There’s no such things as monsters, folks. Not in the dark. Not under the bed. Not in your closet. Just people that do monstrous things.
So, I’m assuming you have figured out what it is I’m talking about by now. That photo is kind of a give away. I’ve never been one for surprises, really.
I’ve heard so many “knee jerk” reactions to this cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged( Yeah, I used “alleged.” Pretty sure this hasn’t gone to trial yet, but fuck “Innocent until proven guilty,” and all that stupid shit, right? However likely it is that the kid is guilty, he deserves his day in court.) Boston Marathon bomber, is on the cover, in what some are considering an attempt to turn him into some type of “rock star,” or “sexual icon.” Now, soon after the bombings themselves, a weird contingent of people were on the internet talking about how “hot” he was, and basically treated him like Johnathan Taylor Thomas, at the height of his Tiger Beat fame/POWER… Yes, for sure, an odd situation, but not an entirely new aberration for people. I mean, in general, people are always fascinated with serial killers, “mastermind” criminals, and the like, and some go so far as to contact these people, and express a desire for a sexual relationship(Freaky deakies, man. They’re everywhere.) There has always been this attitude in our society about the more “disturbed” individuals that share our world; the difference with today is, yup, you guessed it, Social Media. Things that were once private, secret, and maybe even a little shameful, are just put out there for all the masses to read. Back in the old days people had to send letters, and found ways to find like minded individuals, who would secretly get together to jerk off cats, or something. Now, it’s just out there in the open. Although, now that these “groups” are most likely exist entirely on-line, I suppose there would be less of the before mentioned cat jerking off. So, what I’m saying is, why bother even associating yourself. You know what I’m saying? Anyways, moving on…
The truth is, we’ve always propped up our more well known “villains,” and put them on some type of pedestal; not necessarily a pedestal in the positive though. There’s a darkness inside all of us. Most of us just don’t act upon, or don’t need to act upon it, rather, but that doesn’t stop us from being fascinated by those that do, because they are doing things that we all have the capability of doing; we just don’t. We almost need to understand what makes them tick, in hopes that we can better understand ourselves. The way the media treats this stuff, hasn’t helped in terms of confusing a fascinating subject with celebrity.
So, I guess that brings us to where we ought to be. I’m really curious where this conversation started. Who was at the forefront of using these incredibly leading terms. “Rock star?” “Sexual Icon?” Hmmm… Then you started seeing this cover juxtaposed with that of actual rock n’ rollers, and sexual cons, as if that somehow proved their thesis correct, “Well, look, Jim Morrison had long hair and then look directly into the camera too… Don’t you get it?! They’re trying to make him look like a rock star, the bastards! What? No, I don’t know what a ‘selfie’ is…”(Hahaha! I’m hysterical!) Honestly, that’s pretty much what the photo they used looks like. A kid who took a picture of himself, trying to look cool. Pretty much everyone does this. Rolling Stone didn’t pose him, or contact him in prison somehow and commission the picture. No, it’s just an older picture of him. One that happens to make him look exactly like he is. A kid. Generally, from an editorial stand point, the picture used on the cover of a magazine is chosen to prime the audience for the article, and put you in a certain frame of mind, but you are eventually supposed to read the article. That’s just the way it works. If what the picture makes you feel is unappealing, then don’t read it. Pretty simple stuff. I haven’t read the article myself, but it would seem that this photo was chosen to “humanize” him, and signal to the reader that this is a story about kid who got duped into radicalization, and all the tragedy that followed. Here’s the thing though. He’s still a kid. Still a person worthy of your empathy. To end up in the mind set that drove him to take part in this even is surely a tragedy all on it’s own, right? You can’t engage with this story until you except that he is a person. Oh, I’m sorry, “Blood for blood, motherfucker!” That better?
People seem to have made up their minds about this cover without a whole lot of thought. I mean, as far as I could tell none of them had actually read the article(Maybe, they only had CVS’s around where they lived!), so they didn’t know how those two things co-existed together. Once you had read the article than you could formulate an opinion on what Rolling Stone‘s intentions with the cover photo were. This is not to say, that the editorial powers that be didn’t know this would cause some scandal, but I doubt they would have thought that boycott’s would be called for. It’s hard to really say anything without having read that article. There’s no veracity to a half cocked opinion of something you, literally, know nothing about.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. This didn’t strike me as all that “sensational,” and honestly made me think that they plan on telling the kids tragic story in maybe a more sympathetic light. Like I said at the top, there’s no such thing as monsters, and we have to remember that. Too often are “boogeymen” bandied about in the news to keep us terrified of even going out our front door. It’s important to understand this kids story, if only for the fact that we might have a better understanding of how these things can happen in our country, and if we better understand it, not only will it sway some of our fears and preconceptions, but also help us stop it from happening again. That’s the most worrying aspect of the caustic reaction just this cover photo has engendered; people have no desire to understand what would lead someone to become this. Their opinions seem to be purely emotional, and the only thing they want is for some one else to take care of it, and stop it from happening. “We” need to take some social responsibility here. No, it’s not our fault, but we should be more mindful of the effects of our attitudes, carelessness and lazy “take care of it for me” attitudes. We’re the ones that are creating a society where these things happen, because, well, we are society, and we dictate the terms of existence, ultimately.