The biggest shock to us was that the senescent Baby Boomer pop magazine was still publishing, but Rolling Stone’s Janet Reitman has found a new pop idol to scream over, just like she and other Rolling Stone writers did over the Bay City Rollers in their bubble-gum days.
Reitman’s article is gushing, shrieking girl-crush fandom (“popular, promising… charming… bright future…”) with occasional words of criticism (“monster”) tossed in to cover her flanks. She interviews the terrorist’s friends and family, ignoring his actions, and certainly its victims.
Much of the controversy has addressed the cover alone and the words in the Rolling Stone press release. But the article was even more repellent in its transparent hero-worship. Here’s some of what Reitman says about Flashbang — her own words, not her quoting some friend of his:
- “…beautiful, tousle-haired boy with a gentle demeanor, soulful brown eyes and the kind of shy, laid-back manner…”
- “…a captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin wrestling team for two years and a promising student…”
- “…who liked soccer, hip-hop, girls; obsessed over The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones; and smoked a copious amount of weed.”
- “…he admitted he did not like killing innocent people.”
- “…lived in America for a decade – and in Cambridge, a city so progressive it had its own “peace commission” to promote social justice and diversity.”
- “…had earned a scholarship to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and was thinking about becoming an engineer, or a nurse, or maybe a dentist.”
- “…a boy who glided through life, showing virtually no signs of anger, let alone radical political ideology or any kind of deeply felt religious beliefs.”
Each one of those quotes deserves a sarcastic comeback, but we’ll just let them stand on their own, and leave the sarc as an exercise for you, dear reader.
While Reitman’s article and the accompanying glam-shot cover appalled people all over — especially in Boston, where four died and hundreds were injured by her heartthrob — it’s playing well with the rest of Flashbang’s fanclub in the media. For instance, rebarbative Rem Rieder, at USA Today, loved it. (He compares it to the magazine’s Charles Manson cover, fair comparison perhaps, but as an example of greatness. This may not make the point he thinks, but says a lot about his own moral bankruptcy). Jonathan Daniel Brown, responding on Twitter to CNN’s Jake Tapper (one of the few media drones who isn’t a Flashbang fanboy), admitted that “the media fetishizes and celebrates terrorists and murderers.” No $#!+, Jimmy Olsen. Some assclown named Mark Joseph Stern at Slate made it clear he liked the cover (“brilliant!”), the puff-piece story (“good journalism”), the photo (his word: “dreamy” — we are not making this up), and Flashbang himself. Some girl-crushing bleach-blonde bimbo at the Grauniad not only celebrated the Flashbang cover, but held up Dzhokar Tsarnayev as a model sort of celebrity, by which she means someone with criminal, violent “cred”. It was “chicks dig jerks” writ very large indeed: she specifically prefers Flashbang to today’s “boring” stars. “The goody-goodies have such full-spectrum dominance of celebrity,” she complained, that — what? They’re not attempting mass murder, like her preferred hero? How ate-up is that?
And people wonder where the airheaded chicks who joined the Manson Family and carried out his murders went. They went into the media. (And, as Rieder noted, the Rolling Stone crowd — the original crowd, who didn’t trust anyone over 30 until they left it 40 years behind themselves — were all asquee over Manson, back in the day — they even lightened his forehead swastika with literal airbrush).
None of these repulsive writers mentions the names of the people for whom Reitman and her editors have nothing but contempt: the victims. They’re not cool, stylish, hip or trendy: just dead, so to the Reitman media they’re non-persons. Not one is named in her story.
Martin Richard, killed by Dzhokar Tsarnayev’s pressure-cooker bomb, gets nothing but contempt from Rolling Stone and Janet Reitman: he deserved to die so they can celebrate their hero. Martin was 8. Lingzi Lu was a lively Chinese grad student, only 23. But she was nobody to Janet Reitman and her editors. Krystle Campbell, who can be seen trying and failing to cling to a section of fence, and her life, on surveillance footage in the first minutes after the blast, was 29. She gets contempt from Reitman and Rolling Stone, because if she was anybody, she’d be killing people, not being killed by them. In Reitman’s parallel universe, Sean Collier had it coming because he was a cop (what the Manson-era Stone writers, before their ponytails went grey or fell out, called “a pig”). Finally, the couple of hundred other people who were crippled, mangled, shorn of flesh and limbs or drained of lifeblood, and the thousands of intimates of the slain and wounded whose lives were catastrophically disrupted by Reitman’s crush, well, you can’t manufacture a corporate pop icon without breaking a few nobodies.
A complete (at least “journalistically” complete) list of the casualties is hosted by the Boston Globe. If you take a look at it, you’re doing some of the research that Reitman and her editors couldn’t be bothered with, and learning about people who, according to Rolling Stone/Janet Reitman values, deserve only contempt, because they weren’t celebrities.
It’s a hell of a price to pay so that Reitman can name her vibrator “Jahar.” And so other Rolling Stone writers like Matt Taibbi can defend hers, and by extension their, terrorist fandom. Taibbi denies that his paycheck from the terror fans influences his thinking, proclaims he has “no love for Chechen terrorists,” but then goes on to say, “the lesson of this story is that there are no warning signs for terrorism, that even nice, polite, sweet-looking young kids can end up packing pressure-cookers full of shrapnel and tossing them into crowds of strangers.” This is arrant nonsense, of course. There are and were signs. For crying out loud, the Tsarnayevs were too radical for their Saudi-funded, terrorist-funding extremist mosque. “Nice, polite, sweet-looking young kids” that celebrity chasers like Reitman and Taibbi glamorize wouldn’t be committing mass murder if they weren’t radicalized Moslems in the first place. And they wouldn’t be celebrated on the cover of the geriatric pop rag if they hadn’t committed mass murder. (Exercise for the reader: instead of committing mass murder, Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnayev stood in a corner of Boston Common every Saturday all summer speaking to the public about what they saw as the plight of fundamentalist moslems in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Calculate the odds of their getting a Rolling Stone cover, let alone the swooning admiration of Reitman, Taibbi et al).
Because for Rolling Stone and its shallow celebrity groupies, like Janet Reitman, what matters is that you are a celebrity. Why you are a celebrity is of no consequence. They’re just fans of who their advertisers tell them to be fans of, and/or who’s in the news lately. That’s why they have no qualms about giving equal weight to, say, Jimi Hendrix or Celine Dion on one hand, and Che Guevara, Charles Manson, or, say, Dzhokar Tsarnayev.
God damn Rolling Stone. God damn Janet Reitman.
Meanwhile, a Boston cop assigned as a photographer the night of Flashbang’s capture released a number of pictures to Boston magazine, putting his job in jeopardy, as a direct response to Reitman’s and Rolling Stone’s deification of Dzhokar. We think he looks way better with a red dot on his forehead:
Go figure. The one time you need a Mass. cop to lose his trigger discipline, he doesn’t.