Day 8, Month 7 - Year 97 (Year Of The Rat)
The latest scapegoat for the "crumbling of civilisation" (after paganism, jazz, rock and roll, drugs, homosexuality in the military & society, pornography, video games and the Internet) "are" those so-called 'lads mags'. You know, ones like Nuts and Zoo and Maxim and FHM and Stuff and Scrotal Jackhammer... They always feature the latest media-saturated 'hot chick', talking in interviews about how much she loves sex--the more the better...blah blah. Then there'll be an article about some guy who sawed his face off accidentally and it was a miracle of surgery that he recovered, but he still gets tension headaches every so often. Next, there'll be a section on men's fashion--clothes & scents to make all those "honeys" in the club want to shag you right there on the dancefloor. Then some very incisive CD and film reviews along the lines of "I really like this band, therefore this CD is good--it sounds like a lot of other CDs I like". There's some ads in the back for sex-chat phone lines and mobile ringtones and other gewgaws you don't really need.
So, Michael Gove, the "cultural propaganda minister" for the Tories - or whatever his job title is, has gone on the rampage, taking on the editors of "Nuts" and "Zoo" and charging them with helping to erode decent society. And you thought the Mary Whitehouse brigades had ceased to exist after their patron saint, Maggie Thatcher, was deposed. Gove really wants you to believe 'the right' cares about your family. I'm surprised he didn't quote that "I believe the children are our future.." song. I strongly suspect he inhabits a 1950s reality-tunnel...stemming the tide against the rising waves of filth and the "broken society" all around him and his political party. Thing is, there were "lads" magazines around in the 50s and women seemed to have a far rawer deal than they have now - at least in the post-industrialized, post-feminist nations. Women in the 50s were expected to be obedient wives and sexual harassment was not only allowed in the workplace, it seemed to be almost encouraged. I'm not sure, but is that what Gove thinks of as a "fixed" society?
I don't even like "Nuts" or "Zoo" or any of the others...they all seem to be aimed at teenagers and men in their early-to-mid 20s (maybe even late 20s) who think they're still back at the frat house, chuggin' & smokin' with their homeys, talking about gettin' laid n' stuff. The writing, such as it is, is peppered with "dude"s and five-year-old hip-hop slang that has finally filtered down to the wannabe hipsters (things like "pimp my __" and Snoop Dogg-speak)--even in the UK mags. Of course, there's plenty of photos of scantily-clad women in provocative poses and stories of 'steamy' real-life encounters, told by "real" attractive women. It all seems so contrived and the pure same-y quality to all of these articles dulls any aspect of titillation. Still, someone's buying them, I suppose. I also suspect (rather optimistically) that sombunall of the readers of lads mags get the joke...that, really, it's just entertainment--you're not supposed to take it seriously--you realise that women aren't as available to you as these publications suggest. For those who would swear by "Nuts" and "Zoo" as gospel...well, I don't think they will be rehabilitated by Michael Gove's fire-and-milquetoast speeches and I rather doubt he wants them in his Tory-led fixed society anyway.
If the objectification of women is Gove's complaint as well, then to me, shows like Sex & The City and magazines like Heat do the same thing, only in a different way. The message with those shows and mags seems to be "if you don't have this pair of shoes or have the same hairstyle as (insert 'celebrity' name here)--then you're not worth looking at". Just as insidious as making women out to be 'pleasure dolls' and also coming from the mostly male-dominated fashion industry. Same with all of those fashion make-over programmes on the toob--making women feel better about themselves by giving them plastic surgery and a new wardrobe to conform to society's standards of what beauty "is". Where's Gove's speech about that? He probably doesn't mind, as long as they're creating future voters...er, I mean families.
I suppose the lesson here might be not to believe what you read about in "Nuts" and "FHM"--but also not to believe what you read in political speeches, especially ones given by egghead Tories with creepy fascinations regarding your family.