This WWD story by John Koblin, “Dude, Where’s My Magazine?,” has to be the most appalling media trend piece in the long history of appalling media trend pieces. Here’s the gist: thank GOD laid-back dudes who know how to drink beer and party and go to the gym are FINALLY in charge. All those uptight ladies and gay men with their STRESS and SUITS are so OVER. PHEW. Fist bump!
This story giddily revels in a non-dude-freelancer’s doomsday scenario: that all the editors in control of major publications are living a frat-boy dream to which we’ll never gain admission. They drink beer with each other and stay at each other’s villas, go to the gym when you need to talk to them and blast bad music and tell you to like it. And everyone else thinks (or the people writing the trend stories think) that this state of affairs is AWESOME.
The article’s author playfully oozes praise for this “new breed of cool,” as if fratty guys have been long marginalized and are at last ascending the throne of power and prestige. And maybe he’s kidding. Okay, he’s definitely got to be kidding. But there’s too much creepy subtext in here for it to be funny.
To wit, his insistence that the “new breed” of editors don’t let anything get in the way of them being cool! The money quote: “All three Dude-itors have kids and are married — but all three project a certain aura of masculine confidence, a swagger that’s in demand these days, a generational cool.” Whoa, they don’t even let their kids and wives bring down their street cred? Again, fist bump!
Several magazine-world friends—not even all ladies or drinkers of “sparklers”—have told me today that they felt like they needed a shower after reading this article. Ann Friedman‘s parody is hilarious. And this WWD commenter is pretty spot-on: “OMG, I’ve NEVER heard of a magazine editor who was a white guy! Wow, this is really revolutionary. And they have kids? How do they juggle parent-teacher meetings, sick kids, school plays, and a busy work life? Oh right.. they’re MARRIED. To women. Who do all that shit for them so they can throw Nerf footballs at each other and slap each other on the back and talk about how awesome they are.”
At least, that’s the way this article is spinning it, and the article says more about the fantasy of the magazine world as a bastion of “masculine confidence” than about how that world really is or how those guys really are. I just hope it’s not everyone’s fantasy, or those of us without the “new breed of cool” are in trouble.