By Jonathan Schaefer
I decided to try to “read” a fashion magazine.
I don’t know how far I got because I can’t find any numbered pages. I believe this is because every single page I’ve turned to has been an advertisement.
I’m going to count. Okay. I turned 28 actual pages. Which means that I saw 56 pages … 56 pages of ads and no content. That’s how this magazine starts. Wait, that’s not fair. There were two pages of contents. Not pages of content, just pages of promised content. Then again, one of the ads had extra pullout pages.
Here’s what the ads were:
A bunch of women’s faces pushed up close to a camera with a ton of make-up professionally applied. If you get that close to a woman, you’re probably making out with her, but with these women, I guarantee all you’d taste would be several layers of cosmetic gunk.
A bunch of women looking like girls. Or was it girls looking like women? Either way, would you really want to have them? Would you want to wade through that much ill psychology for the prize? Making love? Out of the question. They’re already making love to somebody else — their own image of themselves as girl or woman, either of which they are not, they’re the other.
A guy pushing a motorcycle who has never ridden a motorcycle.
A very moderately talented singer whose main target audience is 9-12 year olds, who is famous also for her curly locks, dressed up in a shiny gown.
Four pictures of four women with four radically different butts. It’s an ad for jeans. The idea is that it doesn’t matter what your butt looks like, these jeans will make it look great. I like that idea, but it’s actually the camera angles that make the butts look great, especially the “slight curve” (no butt) and the “supreme curve” (huge butt).
A guy coming onto an uninterested girl holding a huge bag that looks like a flotation device.
Some pictures of some very thin lower legs in some huge platform shoes. Never trust a woman who prefers her feet that far off the ground.
Another pissed-off chick, this one holding two huge flotation device bags.
A girl from the 2010s, dressed like she’s from the 1950s.
Another pissed-off girl, looking Middle Eastern, wearing idiotically elevated shoes, with one foot turned at an angle so ridiculous it looks like a medical oddity.
The foldout ad. Too boring to open up.
A girl who’s never read Shakespeare dressed in Elizabethan frills.
A girl driving a Chevrolet. You can’t see her eyes. Or the car. Or her breasts. Or the dashboard. Or her legs. Or – I can’t see anything. What the hell are they selling ?
A page where they “interview” a semi-famous actress. All the questions are about what to wear this season.
Two huge bags with no pissed-off women attached.
An extreme closeup of an eye, with black make-up on the outside of the lid. You’ll definitely be washing the pillowcases, but I doubt the sheets – she must be exhausted from poking herself in the eye.
A very beautiful woman in very beautiful clothes in a well-composed, beautiful photograph with great lighting. I would do anything for this woman. The designer is a man from the Bronx who pretends to be from Oxford, who is gay pretending to be straight.
Three expressionless youths staring at the camera in nondescript clothing, but too much of it. Maybe the reason they’re expressionless is that if they move at all, they’ll break into a full sweat.
A big picture of a bunch of people trying to look playfully hip.
Two women dressed like literary dames from the 1920s, who I’m willing to bet cannot name one female author of the period.
A mock up photo of a film noir set. It’s very possible that these “actors” have never seen a film noir.
A cowgirl who’s never seen a cow. Or, for that matter, an actual cowboy. She only sees herself.
A girl who doesn’t play the tuba, pretending to.
A guy who has never wanted to hook up with a girl, staring at a girl pretending to want to hook up with her.
I have no problem with all this dress-up. Spend the money, keep the economy rolling, dress up, look cool, be hip, have a blast.
What I have a problem with is that younger kids than the weirdly asexual ones portrayed here look at these magazines, and they don’t want to be cowboys, or lit girls, or motorcyclists, or tuba players, or Shakespeare readers, or film noir makers, or even hipsters.
They want to be freakin’ models.
Jonathan Schaefer is a filmmaker, writer and actor. He lives in Manhattan. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.