Magazines, particularly the male-dominated magazines, which include basically all the magazines except the magazines devoted to women, serve their own purposes. They don’t particularly care about writers or their actually very segmented audiences, although at the same time they live in fear of a mythologized audience. Here Is Our Audience: He Lives In TriBeCa And Goes To Equinox And Isn’t Sure Where The Best Sushi In Soho Is Now. That he is actually only eight men and seven of those men don’t read magazines isn’t relevant. The male magazine audience member also lives in a perpetual state of divorce and horniness: he must be, all at once, 43 sex tips and best husband and hot dad and also on the prowl. Abs Man and Dad Bod alike! The Male Magazine itself, having passed on over through its emotional crisis, lives in a sad new bachelor apartment of the mind, in a conference room and on an email chain. The “general interest” (male) magazine editor is always waiting for his boss to come back from Milan and tear up all the work everyone has done in the last week. The magazine male has a reasonable fear of commitment to a way of writing a piece. The magazine male is often punished. In the world of the magazine by committee, no profile or essay can satisfy.
The magazine piece lives in a horrifying multiverse, where every possible version of the piece must be executed and then discarded, at least in part to score points in the office game of alphas versus betas. This is workplace hamstering, to borrow the gross and useful term of the mens’ rights universe. I think when men are involved they call that gerbiling but that sounds too anal for what we’re talking about. Office Hamstering is the demonstration of workiness. An editor must prove that he works many hours. It can be unconvincing that one is important if one is not constantly closing a piece. OH I AM SO BUSY! I am already having had worked, I will have worked, I have been and will be working! SO BUSY.
And then, so truly busy, when the committee stomps on in. Senior editors must hamster as well, and they will do it on your story.
The committee will always peg a writer’s essay to a movie that is about to come out and bomb, which was pretty obvious even a couple months ago.
The committee will always ask you to “run some things by the publicist.”
The committee will always “have some last-minute ideas.”
Sometimes, the committee will save you from making terrible mistakes.
You really can’t complain about editors too much without acknowledging that sometimes they literally save lives.
It’s sad that few printed magazines allow the convictions of their story editors.
But mostly, an assemblage of bonobos are pasting up a magazine together, each thinking about the position he will be in when the editor-in-chief finally retires or is auctioned off.
Magazines have become too petrified to give us what we want. They’re right to be afraid, because we want all of the things. We are terrible! But then, magazines are antisocial media. So every magazine choice becomes agonizing, every edit inching closer to an infinity.
Maybe we have driven magazines insane.
this photo is the only way tell if this profile is fiction or not tbh pic.twitter.com/Xpnfq1DZ1t
— LW (@lindseyweber) October 12, 2015
Sometimes, magazine stories become gates instead of windows. This even happens at magazines that employ women! The manufacture of the story creates a distance between us and the subject of the story. You can see why women pop stars prefer to produce and execute their own content, rather than playing with the media to let it be created from them. There, sometimes, a subject becomes obscured, instead of revealed. Maybe that’s on purpose sometimes? Maybe it’s a byproduct of the system, where this one iteration of the story was plucked from the windowsill of all time and space. In any event, this is why T magazine should release the transcript of their Rihanna interview that was used for the profile they have just published. It is her first extensive interview in years. No one needs the media less than Rihanna. And yet, they have two hours of Rihanna talking for a piece that in this universe includes almost as much quotation from the writer’s Uber driver as it does from Rihanna herself. Thank the heavens for all involved, this published iteration of the story remains illuminating, charming, funny, insightful. It is filled with lots of really good ideas. And yet. The public words of Rihanna, which are so few, and so impressive, should belong to us all. Those birds want to fly free. Who is a magazine to keep us from hearing from Rihanna?