I used to love reading magazines. There used to be a joy I got when I saw the latest issue of, say, Vogue or Interview or Rolling Stone on the newsstands. That joy existed back in the late 90s, when I was a teen in high school; around that same time, I started buying magazines on my own. (I would have relied on my mom’s stuff, but she predominantly bought tabloids and Filipino entertainment mags instead, which appealed to me like watching paint chip on the wall.) Covers and editorials then were more innovative and not so airbrushed and cookie-cutter–hell, not one magazine then was caught dead using the same font as their rivals! And while I can’t remember all the articles I read in these mags, I’ll wager that they made for more of an informative read than the drivel heinously published these days.
Ah, yes…these days. That joy started to dissipate in 2007, turned comatose in 2010 upon (among other causes) hearing of a once-prestigious fashion magazine giving a cover to a no-talent tabloid-ridden hag, and probably died in the fall of 2012. Now it seems like fashion magazines are turning into tabloids. Rolling Stone has been blowing chunks since 2008; they officially became a joke to me when, that year, they ran that pathetic cover story on Britney Spears’ troubled life then and why “we” should worry about it. (Still bullshit to this day!) Then there are the covers of all these rags, as I like calling them now. Too many of the same people–some of whom don’t deserve to be on that cover much less famous in the first place, too much of the same cover lines (will Cosmopolitan ever do a cover headline without the word “sex” in it?), overuse of that ridiculous Didot font (hell, I don’t even know if W and Interview magazine are two separate publications or if they’re the same), and WAY too much airbrushing. (I make exceptions for the work of David LaChapelle, whose eccentric style goes hand-in-hand with the airbrushing.) It’s horrible when I see it in women’s magazines, not to mention hypocritical. These magazines want to highlight the strength, talent, and positivity embodied in their their cover subjects, yet their not attractive enough to appear naturally (or at the most, minimally-retouched) on their covers. To me, Kate Winslet is both a beauty and a great actress, so why the need to retouch her to no ends whenever she gets on a magazine cover? It’s just as lame when I see it on women’s fitness magazines–yeah, you can get thighs and abs like her, too…after all that airbrushing. And why hasn’t there been a major women’s magazine speaking out against the airbrushing? I can’t forget to bash the quality of the photographs used on mag covers these days. It’s either too retouched, too gothic-looking, or done in that heinous, Terry Richardson-style. I’m also noticing some mags now putting hashtags on their cover, which is just…
(By the way, I would like a good explanation over women’s magazines like Harper’s Bazaar (and other mags as well) employing an alleged rapist like Terry Richardson to shoot for them. If Bazaar is, I presume, supportive and protective of women’s rights, as I believe all women’s publications are (or should be), then why the hell are they allowing this creep to work with them? So he’s supposedly “talented” and “artistic.” The corpse of Richard Avedon can shoot a better picture than he does, and Avedon was never known to make unwanted moves on his female subjects).
It’s no coincidence that I don’t bother going to my local bookstore to check out what’s on the newsstands anymore. Is it also coincidence that magazine sales have been dropping every year in the past 10 years? I can write about who and what’s to blame for these dropping sales, but it’s been done. What used to be a feeling of joy in my almost-daily trip to the newsstands has now been replaced by apathy and sometimes disgust. It’s also been known that some celebs are now “buying” their publicity–hi, Lady Gaga. (Was she really Glamour magazine’s true “Woman of the Year” last year? Or did Glamour–and other magazines–take a bit of Gaga’s $25 million in part of her publicity stunt to promote her failed “Artpop” album?) And no way will I support a publication that caters to the bullshit of celebrity attention whores.
Damn. It used to not be this way. I originally planned on this entry to show some of this month’s magazine covers, and giving my two cents on them. But after catching a glimpse of them personally, one second of looking at them was enough. They were that bad. And I’m not gonna show that stuff here. Rather, I like to show you a few cool magazine covers from the past…
*Linda Evangelista on US Harper’s Bazaar, September 1992*
*Penelope Cruz on US Vogue, March 2001* (one of my favorite Vogue covers ever!)
*Beavis & Butthead on Rolling Stone, March 1994*
*Various celebrities on Esquire, March 1999*
*Dennis Rodman on Sports Illustrated, May 1995*
*Madonna on Interview, June 1990*
*Kristen McMenamy on UK i-D, June 1993*
What I noticed in the covers above is that the faces above made some great covers, and the photographers then captured it wonderfully. Of the celebs pictured above, they weren’t flukes; they were real A-listers–not those no-talent famous-for-nothings trying to be A-list, which made “celebrity” back in the day more true to its roots. Credit the editors of these magazines back in the day as well, willing to put out a stand-out cover. Magazines these days seem like they want to play it safe with their covers, in an attempt to rake in sales–thus the reason why so many covers now look so homogenized, all the way down to the typeface. And on the occasion some mags want to put out a “provocative” cover, it comes across as crass and try-hard. Like, if Interview today were to remake that Madonna cover with, say, Miley Cyrus, it would be totally unoriginal, try-hard, and, in Madonna’s words, reductive. Guess you can also say the so-called stars today aren’t what they used to be.
It’s tough to say if that joy I once had will ever return. Even I have been giving into internet content over stuff in the magazines, but only because I like old-school stuff, and I don’t think the latest issue of Vogue is going to show pictures of Versace’s Spring 1995 collection in their pages. I’m actually pining for the return of Jane magazine–a really cool women’s publication, from the late 90s up to its end in 2007, that embraced the real woman for who she is, and weren’t afraid to bash certain celebrities. (I remember when Jane once labeled emo rocker Avril Lavigne as their “Loser of the Year” in a 2003 cover story; their sometimes-biting honesty was quite refreshing, compared to what I’d see from, oh, Cosmopolitan.) But more important than yearning for the comeback of a now-defunct magazine is pining for a return of some inventiveness and novelty in all the magazines today. Playboy magazine gets kudos for revamping its covers of recent, eschewing the flashy yet uninspiring tawdriness from a few years ago, to, since 2013, going back its roots and keeping it simple yet sexy. Will the likes of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Rolling Stone, and others do an about-face on their covers as well? Who knows. Till then, I’ll be laughing at them (and the rest) on the newsstands.