Rolling Stone is launching Rolling Stone: Middle East.
Needless to say, I subscribed immediately. I hope it's obvious why this is a huge deal; for one thing, this is a major American pop-culture publication showing major interest in the cultural products and pop life of a region that is almost uniformly understood as backward, primitive, and totally lacking in anything Rolling Stone could ever be interested in. That in itself is a huge deal.
If people in the region read it, that could be even better. It would be complicated, as validation by Western observers always is for almost any Arab group, individual, movement, or trend; but it could also be very valuable. It depends on how they play it at RS, and on how many people in the region actually read it and take it seriously. (Those variables are, of course, related--it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing). As much as it can be fun to make fun of RS these days, when I was in high school that magazine was incredibly important to me. I was the proverbial sad indie kid, and it was kind of a lifeline at times. There are some kids in the Middle East who are probably already consuming this kind of Western media, whether they can actually get their hands on the glossy or whether it's via an Internet cafe; how great is it that they could get their own deal? Something actually meant for them?
The major caveat is that as far as I can see, it's all in English. That worries me a little, and it throws the emphasis back toward the remedial-Orientalist perspective. Maybe there is or will be an Arabic-language version or website; I really, really hope so. Even if that doesn't happen, I still very much applaud this step.
And finally, it'll just be fun for me.
rollingstone.me.com, people: go. Read. Be pleased.