Some interesting rants I've heard lately:

"If You're Thinking of Starting a Women's Mag..." Elizabeth Spiers at Mediabistro has some choice advice for you.

So here's my central issue: if gender-neutral aliens from another planet were to land on earth and could only learn about women from the covers of women's mags, they would probably make the following assumptions:

1. Women tend to be disproportionately enthusiastic about banal things, thus the astronomical number of exclamation marks.

2. Women care mostly and overwhelmingly about clothes and makeup application.

3. In order to cognitively process how the aforementioned clothes and makeup are to be worn, women need a specific number of options—say, 803. Or 540. (On the upside, this would perhaps refute the stereotype that women are not quantitatively oriented.)

It's certainly not news that fashion magazines are idiotic and backwards, but this article tackles the issue with humor and style.

Citizen of the Month has a rather curmudgeonly but spot-on rant about What's the Matter with Kids Today.

I think our culture took a nosedive during the "We are the World" era. All those stupid songs like "The children are our future." Whose future? Theirs… not mine. Let’s clean up the environment so I don’t have to breathe the fumes, not for some nebulous future of the "children." Do I always have to bend over backwards for "the children?" The "children" have ruined TV. Most TV sucks because — god forbid — some child might see something like Janet Jackson’s boob. Maybe I want to see Janet Jackson’s boob. Now, I’m never going to get a chance again because it might ruin the innocence of some bratty American child.

He contends that our children are too coddled and fussed over, that they've become the center of existence to the detriment of us grownups. As an avowed non-breeder, I tend to agree with him. Not that I think children should be seen and not heard -- too many parents are concerned only that their children don't bother them, and completely neglect their needs as people. But surely some balance can be found. Neil's rant struck a chord.

UPDATE: A new McSweeny's feature, Your Children Are Destroying the Neighborhood, underscores the point nicely.

There's been a bit of flap over Dove's new "Campaign for Real Beauty, an ad campaign featuring real, curvy women instead of professional models. Have you seen it? Because I've never come across it, but people are talking. Apparently, the models are big chunkers and plastering their flab across giant billboards offends everyone's rights to have nothing but airbrushed perfection flung at them, according to some articles on the subject. Quips one: Really, the only time I want to see a thigh that big is in a bucket with bread crumbs on it (rim shot here). Another trumpets its disgust right from the headline: "We DON'T Want To See 'Real Women' In Ads!" Pound provides some reasoned and much-needed opposition, defending the much-maligned real women (who are just that, real women -- quite average, not fat or anything -- just not anorexic and over six feet tall!) in "Smell the Dove": Thank you, Sun-Times and Channel 2 fellas, for exposing those Dove billboards for the anti-erection propaganda that they are. She also got an article in the Sun Times to make her rebuttal.

I've just come across an interesting old 2 Blowhards post, "The Arts Litany": prompted by a visit to artsy, hippie Ithaca, Michael Blowhard waxes grumpy about how certain types of people seem to accept an entire list of beliefs and attitudes in order to conform to a particular lifestyle or subculture. He devises the Arts Litany, a collection of those common beliefs shared unthinkingly by "arts people." For example: Solar power; Free Tibet; Sex roles are evil, and the only solution to the hell they create is for everyone to become androgynous. He admits that these ideas aren't all bad, and I myself am likely to subscribe to a number of them, but he does raise a valid point. Do you believe everything you believe because you've decided that it's right, or just because it's part of the package?

Victoria Beckham has reportedly never read a book. Not even the ones her husband wrote, or her own autobiography. Nothing. She prefers music and, heh, fashion magazines. In the article, she also talks about how she's looking forward to having children, so that she can help them paint their nails and fix their hair and dress them up in nice clothes. She wants a Barbie, she means. Now, I find this disgusting. Why do we choose these people to lavish all our attention and adoration upon? Why is she the chosen role model for our girls, the target of our envy and love? Why do such empty people get so much recognition?

An article in The Guardian, "The Tyranny of Reading", on the other hand, protests the outrage that follows the revelation that someone doesn't like to read.

And why not? Since when did a regular quota of suitably serious reading matter become obligatory? And who decides what's worthy anyway? If Victoria Beckham swallowed a regular dose of sugary chick lit or violent slasher chillers, for example (well, they're books too), would it somehow make her reading habits more acceptable than the fact that she happens to "love fashion magazines"?

You know, I think it would. There's just something about the willingness to engage with the outside world, even as minimally as might be possible reading a mass-market potboiler. She could at least pick up a little vocabulary she wouldn't encounter in Cosmo. She could at least know what it feels like to hold a book in your hands and turn the pages -- at least glimpse the reading world as it is experienced by its adepts. Instead, "books" are just some vast, foreign, boring thing, something for snobby people, and she's too cool for them.

Yes, I will be a Reading Tyrant if I have to. It matters.

Well, I think that's more than enough ranting for today. Tires you out, doesn't it?

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Anonymous Melissa:

I can't wait to read the rant on fashion mags. You know what I hate about them? They sell an article a certain way on the cover, and then it turns out to be something completely different once you read it. I mean, if they really think the cover headline is the story they want, can't they just give it to you? This is often related to the specific numbers phenomenon. They promise you 17 2-second fashion tips that you'll use again and again to revolutionize your look this fall!!!!But then you read the article and it's just a feature on how to get the bohemian look/the glam look/whatever and the tips will be accesories to buy or vague things like, "experiment with bold shades of lipstick and cute vintage skirts!" And then you realize that you've read through the whole issue and have found no content whatsoever. *Sigh* Oh, fashion mags, why do I always end up reading you? And then complaining about you?
By the way, I'm so not surprised about Victoria Beckham.

Blogger laurenbove:

Tired but still interested. Great stuff here today!

I dont' have a problem with fashion magazines b/c I don't read them. =) no problem.

If you buy clothes in this century at a store that's relatively acceptable you'll be in fashion ipso facto.

RE: Dove ads? I've seen them twice I think. No problems. They're pretty good and aren't full of gratuitious flab. Just very good photography of regular chicks. (at least the one's I've seen.)

RE: Victoria Beckham? Pish Posh!

Anonymous orangeguru:

I am always very sceptical about any articles that deal with the end of western society, bad kids, bad families, etc.

The family as a construct for breeding and survival has changed: it went from clan size to singles/single-parents within a few hundred years.

Of course this has some tough consequences.

BUT, we also have also seen an dramatic increase in personal freedom and social insights. All stuff that hasn't been properly digested so far.


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