I read somewhere recently that “if people thought seriously, they wouldn’t read magazines.” First off, just speaking generally, I think that’s a pretty big “if.” But that aside, my question is, other than glancing at increasingly sensational, attention-grabbing magazine covers while standing in line at the checkout counter to buy Cheerios (a guilty pleasure I’m sure at least 99% of us indulge in), is anyone doing any actual reading of these magazines? Like heading down to the Piggly Wiggly, purchasing copies of Star Magazine or The National Enquirer, taking them home, and poring over every word about Angelina Jolie’s latest adoption, Britney Spears’ latest hairstyle, or yet another 200 lb. baby?
I ask, because I really don’t know. Oddly enough, with one annoying exception (I was in a huge hurry and got stuck behind a thirteen-year-old purchasing a copy of Cosmo Girl all in pennies and nickels), a person buying a magazine at a supermarket is something I have never seen before. I have seen people looking at these supermarket magazines, sure, but it would surprise me considerably if the majority of them could read anything.
In terms of product placement, these magazine people have got us right where they want us. You can’t miss them. And they’ve left little up to our imaginations. I mean “Brad Pitt Naked Pics!!!” Who can resist? But nothing shocks us any more. I remember when magazine cover models used to be dressed in a semi-wholesome fashion. Then there was that period where certain grocery chains would use those plastic “family shields” to cover up Cindy Crawford’s bikini-clad body. Now they just let it all hang out, making Hugh Hefner look tame by comparison. But we just glance and go on. We are becoming desensitized.
Will we be remembered as the “Paparazzi Generation”? Why can we not go anywhere without being inundated with celebrity photos? I would be willing to bet that I could go 24 whole hours without seeing a picture of Jennifer Lopez, and I would be just fine.
I don’t hate all magazines. I like intelligent, creative magazines. I subscribe to The New Yorker and Harpers. But you’re never going to see one of those at a Safeway.
I’m not really angry. More sad, really. I want people to read books, but I guess reading anything, even about alien abductions during trailer park tornadoes in Memphis, Tennessee would be better than nothing. But I also want to stop losing IQ points every time I go to grab a Twix. I want to stop feeling compelled to be dumb.