February 19, 2011
Why Men’s Magazines Suck (For The Reasons You Never Knew)

This is a little rant leading off from this article from GQ magazine:

http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201102/the-day-the-movies-died-mark-harris?printable=true

1: GQ is a men’s magazine. That’s not the problem. The problem is that as a high roller kind of men’s magazine, it doesn’t cater to the Wizard Magazine type of reader.

Which leads into the next problem:

2: GQ has a tendency to be sexist not always to women but to other men who don’t meet the requirements of their “cool factor”.

I’ve read a number of GQ magazine articles in the past while waiting for my haircut at the men’s salon, but they usually have articles like “Death of the Douchebag: Is the Jersey Shore Trend Over”? - what makes these types of articles worse is that while geeks and nerds are blamed for the “infantilisation of the media” - the so called “Douchebag” class of people aren’t nearly as ridiculed for their fandom or belief system (Guidos and GQ share some value systems) but they’re ripped on for being annoying. They are not referred to as “immature” like fans of comic book movies and book adaptations of stuff like Harry Potter are.

3: Men’s magazines are not evil, but they suffer a lot from the same problems that magazines aimed at young girls and women do.

Men’s magazines like GQ present a sophisticated, intelligent analysis of modern culture - but sometimes take sexist (towards men) approaches to how to approach issues that men face that may be more complex than they seem. They also seem to have a very classist approach to how certain news stories are presented, see the article I paraphrased earlier, “Death of the Douchebag”. What concerns me is that while it’s considered obnoxious to behave like the Jersey Shore stereotype, the attitudes of “do whatever it takes to succeed”, implying one must trample over weaker men who do not have the same financial or even physiological or biological security other men this magazine is aimed at to attain an alpha-male role.

Problems with this are prevalent because men’s magazines are so vague in what actually consists of the actual demographic a man would read a magazine for to gain information about issues of their interest are ignored in favour of gender stereotyping applied to males.

Compare this to magazines about the Arts, which are very gender neutral indeed. Many Arts magazines acknowledge that their audience’s gender is nowhere near as important as the ideas they need to read about to gain awareness of the current state of the art world. Even though nobody really knows the gender demographic of Arts magazine readers, everybody working in that sort of publishing at least acknowledges that art shouldn’t be a matter of buying a new suit to look fashionable and appealing to women.

Arts magazines aren’t about seducing women, or impressing other men. They simply exist for the discussion of ideas.

Meanwhile in Men’s Magazine Lad Land, the marketing team for a lot of these magazines has no idea what the archetypal “male demographic” wants. GQ tries to act sophisticated when presenting a viewpoint on a current issue, but there exists such a things as being sophisticated and pretentious at the same time.

Lad’s mags like Maxim however, have no pretensions in pandering to a demographic marketers already know exists - teenage to early twenties males who enjoy cheesecake. While questions are raised about whether such magazines are sexist towards women - it can never be argued that such magazines are deliberately sexist against men, because the kind of men who enjoy Maxim will buy Maxim, perhaps on a regular basis - without being judged by the journalists of the magazine Maxim itself.

GQ is more of a grey area. GQ isn’t just a light fluffy magazine like Maxim, and light and fluffy magazines do need to exist. They need to exist because otherwise, the world is just too depressing. Even the most hardened haters of girly mags like Tiger Beat know that.

The world, I’m sad to say, FUCKING NEEDS Tiger Beat, because it is like a light and fluffy marshmallow in magazine form which exists to allow females in its demographic to enjoy and entertain fantasies about cute boys and make up solutions.

However, GQ has problems of the variety that it seems to be presenting itself as an intellectual and sophisticated magazine all the while discrediting many male subcultures as not worthy of being a part of GQ's alpha-male agenda.

Discrediting other subcultures in male culture can be justified in some cases of legitimate criticism, but I don’t think enjoying the Harry Potter movies is equal to being an immature male. Blame the geeks and nerds all you want for why Hollywood isn’t making “movies for adults” - but the praise of Inception despite it being a movie geeks and nerds also enjoy puts your argument into question, GQ.

Inception makes heroes out of pragmatic corporate raiders who have a code of operations that rewards betrayal of anybody who doesn’t support the mission. Sure, Leonardo Di Caprio and his buddies are marketed as dream world super-spies, but let’s not kid ourselves. Geeks and nerds like Inception because of the interesting ideas presented about when the world of dreams and future age technology collide. GQ seems to like movies where stereotypes about male role models such as in Inception, a movie that makes heroes out of handsome, fashionable - corporate white alpha-males is the norm, and emotional attachment to anything prevents you from completing your mission.

Which worries me, actually, about how close this seemingly is to GQ's imagined reader demographic. Inception is loved by both geeks/nerds, and GQ's writers and readers as it seems. But I don't think they have quite the same agenda in why they like it so much.

Which leads me to the final problem I have with men’s magazines.

4: Men’s magazines tend to oversimplify issues pertaining to men as a gender rather than going about the political or cultural conflict since it’s more acceptable for the media to see a problem as political or cultural when it may actually be a gender trouble or even a male dilemma.

Does it bother anybody but me that unlike women, who treat their issues with gender a lot more seriously than men do, for many important reasons - men seem to brush off their woes as half of a species out of conformity to the idea that a certain type of male-ness is something to be aspired to?

Where are my articles detailing the increasing about of male suicides that go unreported in men’s magazines because it doesn’t fit with the half-serious male dialogue about entertainment disguised as “criticism” of media you’re supposed to be lending to issues like THAT ONE?

Why is it that men’s magazines assume everything in a man’s life comes down to being solved by sex (according to these types of mags, preferably with women) or money (where gaining it by trampling over weaker men who “don’t deserve the rewards you won” is encouraged as if we still live in the Darwinian Neolithic era!)?

There are complex problems that men have that are actually worth discussing in magazines aimed at men but are not taken seriously enough - not just by feminists who critique male privilege but the very possessors of male privilege that ignore these problems exist for men in the first place!

It baffles me that all men, according to these magazines, care about on an unconscious level is sex and money. Surely men think about other things right? Like their loved ones, hopes and dreams for the future, bettering the world around them for everybody involved?

The feminists say, “We’ve come a long way baby.” But the masculist movement is so obscure and ignored my fucking spell check doesn’t even recognise it as a damn WORD.

We haven’t come a long way at all as men who come from all kinds of backgrounds. We haven’t even fucking BEGUN.

February 18, 2011
Where my bros at?

To all the fellas, who know me in RL or otherwise - if you have seen I Love You Man you would have gotten some idea that romance is not the only thing on a man’s mind.

Sometimes a bro just needs a bro, and in times like this I haven’t found many bros. Valentine’s Day was the usual routine of not feeling too fussed about it until after the fact, but it may be the case that I actually need contact with human people rather than just looking for romance right now.

Romance would be good too, but at the very minute I’m typing this I’m shaking my head at the sorry state of male interaction. I just came back from my friends place where we played a board game called Nexus Ops, which is what you would get if you crossed Starcraft for PC with Risk and elements of Warhammer 40,000 if it was more balanced and was a much more accessible board game you didn’t have to spend money on models and paints for.

Sadly I only get to see this friend of mine once a week, the rest of the week is so dull in terms of my social life schedule that I was motivated to buy a bus ticket just to see where it would take me. You heard me right. I bought a bus ticket just to see where it would take me. And so far it’s taken me to an art gallery to see an exhibition I was completely unaware it was on - and to Downtown where there’s a cinema and an electronics goods store I checked out only to find that they had loneliness marked down on sale for half off.

Normally, if Hollywood movies are to be believed (not the most credible source, but hey) a woman rarely finds herself in this dilemma compared to what men have to do to cope. You want to know why so many men bury themselves in video games and avoid their loved ones on occasion? There’s your answer, us men, you put two guys in a room together and it’s AWKWARD - we don’t know where to start with each other so we start yammering about video games with each other because it’s the only common bond a lot of men grew up with as a coping mechanism.

Video games don’t make people stupid, I’m just saying that it’s become something that rather it being a truly social activity like it used to be - online gaming really destroyed the essence of going to a mate’s house to play some GoldenEye 64 on a single CRT TV screen. Video games were never the actual problem here, the problem with video games isn’t the games themselves but the idea that for a lot of guys we’re more comfortable talking about that than actually recognising a man gotta vent a little - that he’s feeling low all of a sudden.

It’s not even the subliminal homophobia that does this either - men of my age group genuinely, in the most innocent sense of me phrasing it - do not know how to talk to other people of their own gender about emotional problems or issues that affect them directly. They would if they knew how - but many men find the concept of male interaction mystifying because we haven’t been equipped with the social norm of being able to talk to each other or ask people for help.

It’s a baffling dilemma, and it’s a problem that affects men of all stripes, orientations and races. Hell we don’t even know how to ask another man for help with a damn maths problem, that’s how bad it’s gotten!

I would like to be in a relationship with a woman right now, but I really have to ask myself if Tyler Durden was right (while acknowledging he was wrong about a whole lot of other things) about the idea that “Maybe another woman isn’t what we need?”. That statement shouldn’t be taken at face value to begin with either, because women still can help men in situations that their fellow dudes cannot assist under their current skill level.

I’m talking about the idea that men are really confused about what their emotional needs are, rather than their emotions in themselves. Men have emotions - we just have not been taught on any scholarly level what to do with them.

February 17, 2011
The success of Apple, and advertising to males

Maybe it’s just me, or does anybody else find it odd that Apple is successful despite being a very gender neutral company?

The Apple Product as a consumer item is almost devoid of gender if you don’t count the colours available (gender variance in colours chosen for their personal device) or the personalised carrying or protective cases. But surely that can’t be the reason why Apple is so popular with young people of both sexes, right?

Apple’s marketing department may not have taken gender considerations into their advertising at all, or maybe they did. If they did, they’re geniuses, because they’ve managed to advertise their product to appeal to both genders in their target demographic without even trying to sex it up for the male audience like Lynx Deodorant’s “Axe Body Spray” style advertising.

Sex might sell, but it doesn’t always work. In the case of marketing things to men, sex is not always the ultimate solution. Attempting to appeal to the male gender’s overlooked traits, such as intelligence and creativity - ability to create something of their own which is personal to them - is a rather overlooked aspect of advertising I’d like to see used more often when marketing a product to a male demographic.

Sexualised advertising isn’t just sexist to women - it’s sexist to men as well by implying that they’re dumb enough to buy your damn deodorant because you promise it will make them sexually attractive to women you’re objectifying in your ads.

It also fails to account for the reality that not all men, despite the advertisement industry’s hypothetical neanderthal archetype of what kind of man would buy their product - respond to over-sexualised imagery which would encourage them to buy a product. Apple’s ingenious ads are ingenious because they tend to downplay the issue of gender entirely when sending a message about their product to consumers.

Men don’t just find sex sexy. They also find ideas and creativity sexy, on an unconscious level. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s tendency to show in their ads “Look at this fancy new gadget that’s shiny and cool looking, wouldn’t you love to install some apps on there to entertain yourself, you happening and handsome youngster you?” is a probable factor in why Apple ads work. Apple ads don’t sexualise or objectify anything. They simply objectify their product as a tool their customers can use.

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