Rolling Stone Found This Too Controversial

When comedian Ricky Gervais had the chance to be on the cover of a recent issue of Rolling Stone, he submitted a picture of himself as a sad clown with a gun in his mouth… and he considered submitting this alternative (just in case a suicidal clown was too offensive):


(Photo by Nadav Kander)

For some reason, the editors didn’t like either one… and they went with Rihanna instead:

Too bad. Atheist Jesus would have made for a hell of a cover. And it would’ve provided very interesting juxtaposition next to a story about “The Kill Team.”

***Edit***: I’ve fixed a couple mistakes since the original post went up.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Predator Handshake

    Even in the thumbnail Rihanna’s “shorts” look conspicuously photoshopped, like they took the picture and decided to cover her butt a little as an afterthought.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but IMO that picture of Rhianna is far more offensive than the picture of Ricky Gervais.  (He’s looking good, BTW!)

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      As a bi-sexual male, I would enjoy them both at the same time. Gotta keep this PG but damn, that would be a tasty mix.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Chester/682538320 Adrian Chester

    Yep, because that not really covered arse is so tasteful! 

  • Wicatmom

    They should have gone with Gervais’ atheist jeebus pic, it might be controversial, but at least it wasn’t tacky (unlike the one they used).

    • anon

      You think that wasn’t tacky? to me it looked like something I might have done at 15..

  • Fritzy

    Say what you will (and I happen to think the atheist Jesus photo is awesome)–Rhianna’s ass will sell more copy than a photo of a pastey white British comedian without a shirt on.  Ultimately, it’s about what will sell.

  • Anonymous

    So a pic of a mostly naked female musician is less offensive than a shirtless male with a non-religious word on his chest?  Tell that to Abercrombie and Fitch catalog viewers.

  • J Cravens

    I’m not sure if that’s photoshopped or not, but Ricky looks kinda hot…

  • Pchagala

    In his own article that you have linked to, he clearly states that he did not submit this alternative to them because he did not want to give them the choice of picking it. He only submitted the sad clown with a gun in his mouth pic which I think is much more thought provoking than Rhianna’s ass.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Fixed. Thanks :)

      • A1Skeptic

        Only half fixed; you now have no basis for your summation “For some reason, the editors didn’t like either one…”

      • A1Skeptic

        Another fix: Your link to the original photo is “this alternative” but should have been “sad clown”

  • Tom

    Gervais looks like he is trying too hard in this photo.  I like the message, but it comes off as a little “look at me look at me… look I wrote athiest across my chest… dont you get it?”

  • Anonymous

    Atheist on the cross, over a fire, or hanging from a tree probably would not be too offensive to Xians.

  • Johannsone

    Well they do both have the same look on their faces, that come hither let’s sin together stare. 

  • Elizabeth

    I’m disturbed that I found Ricky’s picture kind of….hot……….

  • Thomas Paine

    Hemant,

    Not to nitpick too much, but proper attribution of work is important to me…

    According to Ricky’s own post, the Sad Clown picture was taken by Rich Hardcastle. But the Atheist Jesus picture that you have in this post was taken by Nadav Kander.

    Can you please correct your citation?

    Regards,
    Thomas Paine

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Fixed. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    as previously posted, there are 2 flaws in this article
    1. The atheist photo was not submitted to Rolling Stone as an alternative

    “To be fair when I described it to them over the phone weeks before
    the shoot they said they’d like an alternative, if I wanted a front
    cover. When it came to it I decided that I didn’t want to do an
    alternative, as I knew they would go with that.

    I was right. They definitely would have gone with the alternative,
    but since I didn’t give them one they went with Rihanna.
    Ha Ha. Fair
    enough. I stand by my decision.”

    2. The Atheist photo was not by Rich Hardcastle. It was done by Nadav Kander.

    “I love this pic though by Nadav Kander.”

    The clown photo was done by Hardcastle.

  • http://disienai.tumblr.com/ Semipermeable

    A semi naked picture of a lady star? Never seen that before.I think it’s sad that famous, talented women are highly pressured by the media to do photo shoots like this. I mean, if she wants this sort of shoot, feels comfortable with it, choses to do a scantily clad shoot because it reflects their music, then all well and good for her. But when this sort of picture is pretty much an industry standard, I doubt that is the case for many of them. Male actors get to keep their shits and pants on unless they want too it seems. Picture message aside, Ricky Gervais, I need you in my pants. Seriously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    that article by Gervais is kinda weird. It’s all over the place, so Hemant’s confused mistakes are undertstandable. It starts off talking about his recent work, shooting schedules and whatnot, then goes on to submitting a clown photo to rolling stone which they rejected, then it jumps to the atheist jesus pic he likes and asking commenters to pick which one is best, then ends with philosophical questioning.

    None of it connected to each other for any particular reason. Just random jumping from one subject to the next.

  • Fredericka

    At first glance I thought this individual had tethered himself to a dumb-bell, which would be uniquely appropriate symbolism for an atheist. On second glance, however, I saw that it was a microphone stand.

    • Douglas Kirk

      Hilarious. You should do stand-up.

    • Bill

      I don’t think Jesus likes it when you talk like that.

  • Amy

    He looks amazing.

  • http://twitter.com/thesexyatheist KTSA

    He should have went with the booty shorts.

    Kriss

  • Heidi

    Decisions like this are why Rolling Stone is so completely lame. Oh, look, another bimbo’s half-covered ass. yawn. Granted, it reflects the lameness of the music industry, which pretty much does the same thing.

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m a straight man, and I find the Ricky photo hotter than the Rihanna photo.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Brtalik/503668171 Jim Brtalik

      i think you’re a bit confused

  • Andrew Pang

    In 2006, Kanye West did a crucifixion cover for Rolling Stone.

  • http://oddboyout.blogspot.com/ oddboyout

    Since when is Rolling Stone a conservative magazine?

  • Anonymous

    Ricky’s looking svelte, but part of me is still happy they went with that picture of Rihanna.

  • Dlrsdelruby

    is it just me, or does that red hair make her look like sideshow bob from the simpson’s? that’s all i can think about when i see her, even with her ass out of her pants.

  • Toughcookie42

    You fixed a few mistakes, but the headline is still misleading, and the statement that “the editors didn’t like either one” is completely false.

  • http://profiles.google.com/janiceclanfield Janice Clanfield

    What happened to the Rolling Stone that was hip and edgy?
    Sounds like they’ve turned into a bunch of old ladies.

    • Rich Wilson

      A couple of the hippest and edgiest people I know (including my step mother) happen to be ladies over 60.

  • Stacie

    This pretty much sums up why I gave up reading Rolling Stone Mag about 20 years ago.  I guess I’m old, but I remember when it was a socially important read, combining Rock n Roll and edgy, alternative points of view.  The only thing I care about less than Rihanna’s music is her ass.  Oh well.

  • http://silveroutlinedwindow.wordpress.com/ Shannon

    I love Ricky Gervais – he’s brilliant. Rhianna… meh.

  • Anonymous

    So Rihanna is the Queen of Pain and Ricky Gervais is the King of Mean. So these are what pass for compliments nowadays?

  • Vanessa

    I would have went with the Rihanna picture too. I’m sure they’ll sell way more mags with her than suicidal clown Ricky. Sorry, that’s how the world works.

  • Sinfanti

    I have to think there’s an obvious business decision going on here.  Pictures of booty sell better than pictures of suicidal clowns. 

    And I have to agree with Tom that Ricky’s recent photos do look like he’s trying too hard.  At least it’s not the closeup shot where he’s got the cigar in his mouth and looks like he didn’t get the memo to stop auditioning because  Hugh Jackman already got the part of Wolverine in the X-men movies years ago.

  • Chrissy Jones

    I know this probably isn’t the reason Rolling Stone didn’t use it, but I think that picture of Ricky Gervais is kinda stupid. I like him, generally,  and I’m an atheist, but the picture is clearly just going for shock value/edginess (and it doesn’t even do that well…it’s kind of boring). Rihanna’s ass is a more conventional kind of boring, so it makes sense that they went with that. I’m looking forward to reading the interview, anyway…

  • CanadianNihilist

    Rolling Stone made the right decision.
    Not because one is less offensive than the other but because Gervais is an egotistical douchebag that apparently threw all his shirts away since he lost the weight. he’s not even in any good muscular condition.
    I’m tired of seeing him topless and It’s good that Rolling Stone didn’t indulge his ego any more.
    I like his comedy and his views on religion but he doesn’t live in a tropical country, he needs to put so damb clothes on!

  • http://profiles.google.com/elronxenu Nick Andrew

    I think the Atheist Jesus photo is awesome. Pity they didn’t go with that.

    The Rhianna photo is the one which is trying too hard. It’s like they have only one idea – “sex sells” and they use it time and time again, because it always wins. That’s not edgy, it’s conservative.

    • A1Skeptic

      Pity they did’t have a chance to, as it turns out Ricky didn’t submit it.

  • Comingdtearth

    Oh my, someone in the mainstream media taking a swipe at Christianity! How shocking and thought provoking! I I’d be more impressed if he took a swipe at Islam and Mohammad, but then again, he’d have to go into hiding if he did that.

  • Chris

    Is it news that a hot chick’s ass will sell more magazines than some dude dressed as Jesus?

    Rolling Stone is a dreadful magazine anyway.

  • http://atheistdave.wordpress.com/ A. Dave

    I’m completely satisfied with my decision to cancel my Rolling Stone subscription earlier this year.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    There seem to be two factors at work here.  First, even Rolling Stone panders to the religious reich.  Second, female ass sells better and isn’t as offensive to the religiots as the word “atheist”.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    There seem to be two factors at work here.  First, even Rolling Stone panders to the religious reich.  Second, female ass sells better and isn’t as offensive to the religiots as the word “atheist”.

  • Hellababe

    Ricky does look hot… when did that happen?  And why are outspoken atheists persecuted/censored but outspoken christians are fine?

  • http://twitter.com/godlessinitaly Marc

    It really tells us a lot about how edgy Rolling Stone will allow itself to be. Not very, it seems. Poo.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares?  Atheists have been intentionally offending  Christians forever.   Most Christians ignore it, so it’s really just a cheap publicity stunt.

    Perhaps if Ricky really wants to challenge religion he can mock Islam – how about posing as Mohammad slicing a  Qu’ran with a sword?  Why save all of your vitriol for Christians?  What say you, Ricky?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Horatio-Postlethwaite/708670651 Horatio Postlethwaite

    I fucking hate Ricky Gervais. Smug cunt.

  • Ktobin86

    Sooo….they went with the Rihanna clown instead? hmm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=648357942 Tamer Sayin

    both cover pictures photoshop, access body weight shaved on both pics

  • Den Hickey

    Rolling Stone… from counterculture bible to…. non-offensive font of corporate entertainment crap.  I knew it was really all over the day Jan Wenner started drug testing all employees.  Were he not cremated and shot into the air, Hunter Thompson would be rolling in his grave.

  • Joe

    Rolling Stone is in the business of selling magazines. “Controversial” covers don’t sell as well as booty. So, they went with the booty.

  • Pete_d6

    All politics and discrimination aside, but if rihanna was white she would never get a cover shot or have her music heard, ricky should have got the cover for the simple reason he has TALENT,,,,, nuff said

  • Micspoon

    Rihanna’s picture is most definitely ‘shopped…

  • Dan

    Like the Rhianna photo, but then I’ve always had a bit of crush.  On the other hand, I’d love to see the “Atheist” photo; I know it wasn’t submitted, but I wish it was.

    Then again . . . Rhianna ass.

  • http://twitter.com/CinnamonPup Nathan Sinclair

    Moronic, unfunny ‘comedian’ with an anger problem and absolutely no respect for people who would dare think differently to him, or the most attractive female singer currently in the charts?I know which one I’d pick. As I say every time StumbleUpon directs me to an article involving that moron; as a British Citizen, I apologise with all my heart for allowing something like him to come into existence. I assure you, we aren’t all close-minded, humourless bigots here on our little rock.

    • Bornonbellstreet

      Unfortunately for you Sinclair, his sales and popularity would have it otherwise.  Nice try tho.  Btw ‘most attractive’ is more of a personal taste thing wouldn’t you agree?  You’re coming off a little tense there… relax watch some comedy :)


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