Rolling Stone’s Dilemma: Who’s Next?

August 12, 2013

“We got all the friends that money can buy
So we never have to be alone
And we keep gettin' richer but we can't get our picture
On the cover of the Rollin' Stone.”

                                 Shel Silverstein

It was never about taste.

To survive, Rolling Stone needs to sell magazines.  And by featuring pretty boy terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, Rolling Stone sold magazines.  In fact, news stand sales were double what they usually are.

Trying to boost sales seems like such a capitalist thing – counter-countercultural – but Rolling Stone lost its countercultural cred many years ago.

True, running a flattering photo of a terrorist on the cover was in poor taste.  But this is a publication that has run Boy George on its cover.  It’s not about taste.

And the magazine-buying public has made its feelings known by buying copies of the terrorist issue.

The challenge for Rolling Stone, though, is what to do for an encore.  Who can it put on the cover next to pump up sales?  Here are a few suggestions, but maybe you have a better idea.

  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren dressed as Tonto.  Since being elected, the new Massachusetts senator has dropped all talk of her questionable Cherokee roots.  It’s time for her to embrace her inner American Indian and put a dead crow on her head, ala Johnny Depp.
  • Whitey Bulger in a family photo with brother Billy.  The Bulger name has been selling newspapers and boosting newscast ratings here in Massachusetts all summer.  Now that his trial is over, it’s time for him to take his notoriety national.  It could be a killer issue.
  • Edward Snowden getting a bear hug from Valdimir Putin.  The headline could read, “Re-Reset.”
  • The Philadelphia Eagles’ Riley Cooper would be a logical choice.  He’s hunky and he’s a music fan.  Heck, he was at a country music show when he used the “n” word.  If would be in poor taste to put a racist on the cover of Rolling Stone.  But it’s not about taste.

There are so many other possibilities … Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad, Justin Bieber.  With the future of its magazine sales hanging in the balance, who do you think Rolling Stone should pick?



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