If Rolling Stone's goal in its current issue was to provoke and infuriate America, the magazine grandly accomplished its goal.
With the nation's wounds still fresh from the horrific April bombing at the Boston Marathon, Rolling Stone has presented a cover that will strike many people as being tasteless and exploitive.
Opined USA Today: "Rolling Stone's cover treatment and glam photo of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev touched off a firestorm Tuesday, especially from Boston-area readers who charged that it turns an accused killer into a 'rock star.'
"The article by contributing editor Janet Reitman is titled 'The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.' T
"The lengthy article draws upon interviews with childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, the magazine says.
"But it's the soft cover image that seemed to rile social media.The Bob Dylan-style photo shows the 19-year-old Tsarnaev, with long, curly hair, mustache and goatee, staring directly into the camera."
Some have likened the image of the suspected bomber to that of Jim Morrison of the Doors.
I noticed this post on Facebook, by a noted rock and roll critic:
"In case you haven't seen it, Rolling Stone has the Boston bomber on the cover of its latest issue. I'm all for freedom of the press in all of its manifestations, but I also resent giving this piece of shit the attention he so obviously craved when he did his horrific act. I've never written for Rolling Stone, never wanted to write for Rolling Stone, but I have subscribed to it since the late '60s for its music coverage and occasional other worthwhile articles on politics, film, etc. But this makes me sick. What were they thinking?"
One outcome appears likely: The issue will sell well. Rolling Stone knows how to push America's buttons and get people excited enough to read what they hate.
The U.S. magazine industry is in so much distress these days that it's an accomplishment of some sort when a publication can get people excited -- about anything.