Take Cover: From Faceless to Famous

Jahar Tsarnaev looking like a goddamn Rock Star on the new Rolling Stone cover.

Tsarnaev looks like a damn Rock Star on the Rolling Stone cover.

I’ve lived in Boston/Cambridge for the past 12 years, and it’s still hard to explain my emotions for what happened during the week of the Marathon Bombings. I wrote about that tragic day the morning after, and decided that “hope took a sucker punch from a gutless and faceless enemy”. Well…today the enemy’s no longer faceless but famous, and thanks to Rolling Stone the gutless appears to be just another celebrity face – and potentially a rock star.

Marathon Monday was as surreal as it gets for Bostonians, and as the week progressed the surreal raced around in a roused spin cycle of sadness, disbelief, fear, unity, and mourning; only to have our emotional laundry end its cycle on the morning of April 19th as we awakened to life in a Police State, no longer allowed to even leave our apartments.

The week was heavy on so many levels, and as day crept into night that Friday we all became defiant and restless. We no longer wanted to be holed up in our apartments watching sketchy reporting about the events that happened in my home of Cambridge, and were happening real-time in neighboring Watertown. So we reacted like any good Bostonian would, and flocked to the bars. Enough was enough.

We were sick of the constant hum of helicopters overhead. We were sick of feeling edgy when on a crowded T. We were sick of hearing of friends Family members who were fighting for their lives in a near-by hospital. We were sick of surveillance footage of two terrorist bros walking down Boylston. We were sick, sick of it all, and we wanted to let off steam and put a defiant middle finger in the air directed firmly at terror, or whatever it’s called.

I may be overly sensitive to the Rolling Stone cover because of this – and honestly, I shouldn’t care that much about a media outlet that’s 20 years past relevancy – but the photo used was in poor taste. I’m not a flag waving “Boston Strong” (a phrase I’ve come to loathe) automaton by any means, but making Tsarnaev appear as glamorous and famous as anyone else who dons that cover is unsettling and disrespectful for those who didn’t just experience that week over the internet or TV.

A couple weeks ago Boston got together again to celebrate the 4th of July and the number of police out was disturbingly noticeable, and the thought of the bombings was on the tip of everyone’s mind. When the barge on the Charles shot off its customary warning shots that the fireworks were about to begin people stopped talking. Everyone around me on the Beacon Hill rooftop I was on looked around nervous and wondered, “What was that…?”

I don’t know, like i said, it’s hard to explain, but we’re all still healing on different levels, and the reaction of the Boston music community is pretty much universal on the Rolling Stone cover. It’s made the faceless even more famous, and presented terror in a too favorable light.

D. Hixon


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