The best parody Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Rolling Stone covers

What would have constituted a better Rolling Stone cover for the August 3 issue? The Internet gives us some options.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Published Jul 18, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 11:08 am CDT

The latest cover of Rolling Stone has set the Internet on fire, as was no doubt the editors’ intention. Featuring a selfie of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it’s a jarring reminder that profiling is ineffective policy: Tsarnaev looks like any other 19-year-old in a sub-par basement band—or a new member of the Strokes, for that matter.

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Any rational discussion of the culture and iconography of terrorism was quickly swept under the rug as people took to the web to voice outrage. Tsarnaev, they said, had been “glamorized” and given the rock-star treatment. It made no difference that the article called him a “monster.”

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What, then, would have constituted a better Rolling Stone cover for the August 3 issue? The less serious side of the Internet was sure to give us some options.    

Naturally, there were the obvious (if well-executed) comparisons.

@RibyRaccoon: #BetterRollingStoneCovers it’s you!

— Alex Arnold (@Sub_1600) July 18, 2013

The Daily Dot’s own Daniel Kibblesmith was able to cram in a lot more offensive imagery, not to mention headlines. This one deserves a close look.

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#BetterRollingStoneCovers The one I made:

— Daniel Kibblesmith (@kibblesmith) July 17, 2013

Really, why even limit yourself to Rolling Stone? Tsarnaev should be all over the newsstand!


— Will East (@willeast1) July 17, 2013

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Here’s a magazine we’d actually read.

#BetterRollingStoneCovers AWKWARD SILENCE: Life as Doctor Who’s most forgettable star

— Stephen (@GodOfHammers) July 17, 2013

Some ideas were purely conceptual, so use your imagination.

eddie vedder burning a copy of rolling stone on the cover of rolling stone #BetterRollingStoneCovers

— Antiquiet (@antiquiet) July 17, 2013

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soundgarden, alice in chains, and pearl jam silently eating shawarma #BetterRollingStoneCovers

— Antiquiet (@antiquiet) July 17, 2013

The dogs playing poker painting but it’s just Pitbull by himself #BetterRollingStoneCovers

— Eliza Bayne (@ElizaBayne) July 17, 2013

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George Zimmerman and the CEO of Skittles, licking the same ice cream cone #BetterRollingStoneCovers

— Gourmet Spud (@gourmetspud) July 17, 2013

Here’s a stinging rebuke to Rolling Stone’s official defense of the cover, which mentioned the magazine’s “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”

A Journalist Trying To Explain World Events To Someone Who Gets Their News From Rolling Stone #BetterRollingStoneCovers

— Nick Amadeus (@NickAmadeus) July 17, 2013

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Of course, not everybody had a firm grasp on the joke.

#BetterRollingStoneCovers is the dumbest thing. The story is about Jahar Tsarnaev. Literally what else would you put on the cover.

— Jonathan Ferris (@JFerris721) July 17, 2013

And there were some earnest entries, including the Boston Herald’s emphatic response.

Better version of the Rolling Stone cover? (discussion from @TheLeadCNN here

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 18, 2013

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Boston Herald responds to the Rolling Stone cover on their front page today

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) July 18, 2013

Warning: this bonus one is impossible to argue with, but also totally NSFW.

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*First Published: Jul 18, 2013, 12:43 pm CDT