Ed Driscoll

Rolling Stone's Cover Stories: the 'Soft-Focus Image of the Soulful Boy-Man'


John Podhoretz explores “Why the ‘Rolling Stone’ Cover Has Angered People.” As he writes, the pushback from the leftwing defenders of their pop star-style portrait of Dzohkar Tsarnaev cover might be warranted, if it had been the first cover story the magazine ever ran:

But it’s not. Rolling Stone has a 40-year history of magazine covers and it practically invented the rock-star glamor shot in the 1970s. It is therefore meaningful, as a kind of visual grammar, that the cover is reminiscent of 1970s images of Jim Morrison and Bruce Springsteen, among others; the silhouetted soft-focus image of a soulful boy-man is a Rolling Stone tradition. As for the fact that the photograph has appeared elsewhere, that is meaningless: A glossy magazine’s cover is not a newspaper’s front page. Covers of entertainment glossies are explicitly designed to be iconographic—to glamorize and romanticize and even mythologize their subjects. They are designed to sell single copies on newsstands, and you don’t sell single copies on newsstands with ugly pictures. Such covers are designed to allure, to draw in. That is second nature to Rolling Stone as a commercial enterprise, which is surely why it never occurred to its editors just how upsetting their cover choice would be.

Jack Tapper of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO proffers a better choice of cover illustrations:


It’s a nice idea, but an awfully naive one: In its 45-year history, when has Rolling Stone magazine ever cared about the victims of its pet causes?