Rolling Stone’s Latest ‘Bad Boy’ is a Terrorist

July 21, 2013 7:17 am 0 comments

Boston Marathon bomber suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone. Photo: Reuters.

Johnny Depp. Justin Bieber. Rihanna. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Whoa!

Known for gracing its covers with musicians, movie actors and pop icons, Rolling Stone magazine has frequently tapped the pulse of the zeitgeist. But by plastering the face of the brooding Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tsarnaev, on its iconic cover is nothing short of reprehensible.

Unfortunately, it’s also none too surprising given the status the media often attributes to terrorists.

Like so many modern-day terms, “terrorist” gets labeled far too widely and for many on the Left, it can even serve as a badge of honor. From Yasser Arafat (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) to Osama bin Laden and Bill Ayers, it has been predicated upon a variety of sorts.

But let’s rewind the tape a bit. Media-wise, everything changed just over 40-years-ago, in 1972, when the world witnessed one of its first up-close, televised, human (if you can call them that) incarnations. The masked hostage taker hovering on the balcony of the Israeli athletes’ residence in Munich during the Olympics became etched in our collective conscience.

Glued to TV sets, many of us in the world watched in horror. Yet for others, they saw it as a new form of celebrity. Eventually, the image of the terrorist morphed into a post-modern-day outlaw. And with it, a mystique.

The pejorative meaning that “terrorist” once possessed rose to symbolize something quite different, depending on who’s using it and whom it’s being labeled upon, from evil-doer to freedom fighter.

Take Arafat as an example. He was able to morph, chameleon-like, from gun-toting thug into White House guest. He could be, and even say, one thing on the world’s stage, and quite another to his followers.

He learned how to adapt when it suited him. When “terrorist” became unfashionable, he would smile for the cameras and, twisting cleverly, use his beaten-down status as a tool. He would become the anti-hero. And, it worked.

Why? Because it fit so well with our postmodern-day perception of a hero. What is a rocker, but someone who rebels against the establishment? In our pop culture, look at the deification of Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious and the lofty eminence thrust onto Eminem. (BTW: Each one has graced the cover of Rolling Stone.)

And each in their own way are offspring of what the playwright John Osbourne in his seminal stage creation “Look Back In Anger” captured when he displayed the mood of “the angry young man.”

The anti-hero became the hero.

For those of you only familiar with an Osbourne (first name spelled Ozzy), a way to get a better picture of “the angry young man” is to think (or rent) Marlon Brando in his quintessential anti-establishment role as Johnny, leader of the Black Rebels motorcycle gang in “The Wild One.”

Politically, socially and economically, the anti-hero became the poster child for the extreme Left and the image of the rebel was exploited to promote dissent. Dissent from what? Well as Johnny would say, … “What’ve you got?” Free trade? Corporations? Israel? Globalization?

Politically, the use of the anti-hero image has served leaders of the extreme Left well by twisting around what Hegel described as a master/slave relationship and using it as a means to win sympathy, approval and, most of all, celebrity. Take for example how for years many would have liked to have plugged a hole in Arafat’s keffiyeh. Yet we realized he would have become a martyr the second he was shot. He’d then live on in infamy. Nothing would have served him or his cause better. So we held fire.

Arafat understood how to use the media, and others of his ilk know this trick all too well too. They know that while everyone loves a winner, many more love to root for an underdog.

The trick is to remain an underdog. That way you’ll always have a sympathetic base of support to draw on.

Back in May the LA Times reported on Dzhokhar’s online fanbase made up of thousands of fangirls who all think he’s “cute.” It read, “The Bambi eyes (looking right out of his Instagram-doctored photos at you!), the hipster facial stubble, the masses of wine-dark tousled hair — adorable!” Twitter, Tumblr, etc., all shared photos of him as if he were the latest teen idol.

Sick, huh?

What we’re seeing today on the cover of Rolling Stone is the chic glamorization of that hipster rebellion.

The terrorist is the extreme incarnation of it — an inversion of the hero into the anti-hero and in today’s pop culture, driven by celebrity, and able to spread virally, it thrives.

Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at abebuzz.com. This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.