The debate over Kim Kardashian on the cover of Rolling Stone‘s July 16th issue has risen to a boiling point, especially with the hard rock & metal world (as if one of our artists would ever elegantly grace the cover). There have been many reactions to the pick, most notably Sinead O’Connor with her short, but powerful rant:
What is this cunt (“I don’t smile much because it causes wrinkles”) doing on the cover of Rolling Stone? Music has officially died. Who knew it would be Rolling Stone that murdered it? Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh can no longer be expected to take all the blame. Bob Dylan must be fucking horrified.
While speaking about it recently, someone close to me made a fantastic point about its validity: “Groupies have always been a part of music.” My jaw dropped to say the least, and I honestly couldn’t find words to respond. They were right, and looking to covers past (the Boston Marathon bomber, Michael J. Fox, Ron Burgundy, Charlie Sheen, Mitt Romney, etc.), this groupie on the cover is closer to music than many of her predecessors.
This realization got me thinking more about our anger toward the new cover and the issue with Rolling Stone having people like Kim Kardashian is not so much about having no tie-in to the creation of music. The evidence shows that the magazine has never committed to exclusively showcasing artists on the cover (http://www.rollingstone.com/coverwall). It’s the job of the editors to pick polarizing characters to feature on the front page so it will sell more copies, whether we like who that is or not.
I then thought my perception of Rolling Stone being “all music, all the time” must be this old-school idea of the magazine from a time lost when they wrote exclusively about the content we expect- but even in the infancy of the magazine’s life, they had cover articles featuring riots and human rights violations and stories about the rise of Autism and teenage alcoholism. The list of that kind of content goes on and on. My perception of Rolling Stone has actually been based on nothing other than what I feel the magazine should be about. Kim Kardashian could have been on the cover 30 years ago if she was equally as hated then as she is now.
My disappointment with the new cover can only really come down to one thing: I wish Kim Kardashian would go away and never come back. She has not earned what she has, she made a sex tape with a C-list rapper, and for some reason the world ignited with this love for a person with nothing to offer humanity. Meanwhile, there are people in this world who save lives, give everything they have to help others; there are bands out there who could do so much with a tiny fraction of the money the Kardashian name brings in, and yet they struggle and fail because America loves their celebrity royalty more than they love art. So to see this cover featuring someone I don’t feel has earned anything, disheartens me.
My anger over the whole thing seems to be a bit of overkill as well being that Rolling Stone rarely covers anything relevant to me, and the only time I received the magazines in the mail was after I bought some tickets through Ticketmaster that came with a free one-year subscription… you know, back when they were giving the magazine away. So as a metalhead, why the hell should I really even care about this?
In the end, she is indeed a polarizing character who has spawned a debate that is likely strong enough to help Rolling Stone sell a career high number of magazines. More importantly though, this cover got everyone talking about Rolling Stone, and that is worth more than every penny it cost to get Kim on the cover of the issue. After all, the magazine is a business, and for the right amount of money, you could probably get Kim Kardashian to do anything: