Thursday, 12 January 2012

Magazines: You Aggravate Me, Please Go Away

My family has a neighbour who is quite possibly one of the nicest old ladies on the planet. Always coming over for a cup of tea and (in between my long-suffering Mother helping her out with her washing machine) always with something to talk about.

Just today she came over with a bundle of old Woman's Day magazines to give to my mum. A nice gesture, of course... for my mum at least. But unfortunately for me I was bored as hell today and, after our good neighbour left, I decided to poke around in one of them out of desperation.

“I've got nothing to do... I think I'll see if there's anything interesting in this mishmash of photoshopped pictures and ludicrous sensationalist headlines!” Big mistake.

Flipping through the glossy pages and skimming over the less-than-flattering photographs of the British Royal Family, I could quite literally feel my IQ level dropping. I started feeling increasingly more and more stupid every time I turned a page, and less than five pages in, I could take it no more.

I was instantly reminded of memories that I may or may not have repressed: visiting boring people my parents knew, and being forced to read Take 5 and That's Life! out of pure boredom. Saccharine feel-good stories and Cheap Recipes for Families On the Go®, usually accompanied by a picture of the cook, a fake white smile plastered on her face. “Win a Car!” the stock competition proclaimed, with a picture of a pile of money sitting next to a generic Korean hatchback that no-one would buy anyway.
Oh, and there was the matter of the anonymous young woman on the cover. In a nice dress, robotically posed and with another fake smile. But here's what really got me: she had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the magazine's content. There was nothing relating to her, nothing even acknowledging her existence. She was just... there. For no reason at all. And looking like an android to boot. That pissed me off.

I have since come to the conclusion that I hate women's magazines, quite possibly to a greater extent than modern pop music. And modern mainstream pop music is to me what Luca di Montezemolo is to F1 fans. It makes me breathe fire and grow long claws.

I'm thinking the target audience for these magazines is 30-something stay-at-home housewives who take their children to soccer games, tennis training or piano lessons. Why? Because only these hapless souls may be bored enough, or jaded enough, to find any of the crap in these pages interesting. These women devote all their time to other people, not least their children – which is by all means a noble pursuit – but it also means that they don't have any hobbies. You know, interesting things to do.

I have hobbies. They include, but are not limited to: Playing video games, reading good novels, writing these columns, drawing/painting, and buttering my cheese ignore that last one. As a result of this, I have more pressing things to worry about than whether a socialite couple are engaged or not, or whether a new dress some barbie-doll actress is wearing is in fact disguising a baby bump. I just couldn't give a rat's tail if I tried, which I'm not too keen on doing.

Maybe the market for these magazines stems from the unfortunate fact that some people have an almost perverse interest in the lives of famous people they don't know. It may somehow remind them that the beautiful people they see on TV and on those inane celebrity gossip websites are, in a somewhat twisted way, just like them. They are normal. They are human beings. They possess the ability to have kids and care for them as any responsible adult would. They, shock horror, have to BUY FOOD AND FEED THEMSELVES.

Perhaps it's counselling for the fact that famous people are famous in the first place. By bringing them down to our level, magazine readers console themselves with the deluded notion that their lives might not be that different to those of celebrities.

Because... let's face it, it's in our nature – who wouldn't take being well-known over an anonymous, humdrum suburban existence?

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