R.I.P. Magazines

Or more specifically, the ones I miss. I was just looking over the newsstand at the local bookstore about a week back, and couldn't help thinking that none of the mainstream magazines on it (i.e. Vogue, Teen Vogue, Cosmo, Elle, CosmoGirl, you get my drift) looked like they contained things I was even vaguely interested in. In the process of flicking through the lot, I ended up thinking about what wasn't on the newsstand, and why I found it unfair that they weren't, given that they were perfectly well available ten years ago.
I'm not sure why I'm posting this, given that my blog seems to have a grand total of two readers these days, and I strongly doubt (given the fact that they're boys) that they'll get this. The trigger for this is
a) an increasing feeling of dissatisfaction with teen magazines (perhaps that's only to be expected, since I haven't been a teenager for a while now) and fashion magazines in general.
b) the discovery of a few torn-out pages from an old issue of YM (specifically, the one in the photograph above) in one of my bookshelves.
And frankly speaking, I miss them all. My mag spree started off with J17, and then ran the gamut of everything that made it to this country- from YM, Vogue, The Face and Seventeen, to CosmoGirl and ElleGirl (which I feel particularly bad about- it was such a friendly mag. The features were usually fun, the photography was pretty good, and the stories were decently written even if you didn't like whoever was on the cover- I'd never have been caught dead with a magazine cover featuring La Hilton otherwise. And it wasn't all about rich brats or celebrities either. Even though I was sixteen when it started up, and twenty-one when it closed, it was loads of fun, and I loved it. And CosmoGirl just degenerated into a trashy set of increasingly shock-valued real-life stories combined with trashy fake-tanned blonde covergirls, which sent it south as far as I was concerned).
So maybe what I'd like to know is as simple as this: why are mainstream magazines today so bad? Tooth-rottingly bad, in the case of teen magazines? Simply alienating, if the magazine happens to be Teen Vogue? Lacking in creativity of most kinds (and don't give me faff about lack of budget- ElleGirl seemed to do ok most issues, and it didn't use hugely pricey clothes or locations all the time). And even when The Face was on its way out, there were bits that still qualified for greatness. My readings of serialised fiction basically began with Diary of a Crush in J17, back when I was fourteen, and I'd had a soft corner for it even before that. A bit of me actually wishes it would (the magazine, I mean) come back to life or something- I really really liked it. I mean, The Face was cooler, but J17 (which, incidentally, came from the same publishers) was more mine, if you know what I mean. Probably cause I got hooked on it first.
And the last great question that remains: from The Face, J17 and YM in 2004 to ElleGirl in 2006, why are the good ones being shut down? ElleGirl, unlike the others, didn't even suffer a reduction in quality before it folded. Is sycophantic trash all that's fit to survive in the twenty-first century print world? I don't mean to denigrate the surviving magazines, there are plenty of them that I love, but the things at the top of the mainstream tree are just getting more and more irritating by the month.
At least the music mags are still good. I know NME has its fans, but I don't get it here in paper form so Mojo and Q (especially the former) will always have my love, not least because they always came with a free CD that is well worth your while to listen to. I'd probably maul anyone who tried to take the June 2005 issue (Oasis on the cover, featured interview with the people behind Morning Glory) away from me- or, for that matter, any issue. Because those are cool in a way that defies description- their stories don't shy away from reporting anything (and to be honest, they know that they and their readers don't really care a hoot about just how badly behaved Liam Gallagher is)- no more Condé Nasty suckup jobs! yay!, they are, for the most part, really well written, and the photography is quite often really good- they don't shy away from handing entire pages (on lovely paper!) over to particularly striking archive photographs, and the reviewers don't shy away from stating clearly that an album is rubbish. And I love looking over the ads for band gigs (The Libertines! (when they existed, and I suppose when they made it to the show at all) Radiohead! CSS! The Long Blondes! Morrissey! squeeeeeee!!!! coolness is still alive and giving everyone the finger!).


Yohan said...

Do you like Morrissey? I'm not sure I get The Smiths. Apart from "How Soon Is Now".

Never bought a music mag. NME comes to my feed reader, as does the Guardian's music stuff. Gig ads are nice...I can occasionally go for one! :D

blue floppy hat said...

I love the Smiths- they're the band that first convinced me that 80s music wasn't all created by the spawn of the devil (hair metal? Ugh.). I don't agree with Morrissey on the whole vegetarianism thing, but aside from that he's genius.
The free CD with music mags means they're nearly always worth it- I ended up listening to a fair bit of stuff I wouldn't otherwise have had the patience for.
But yeah, dead teen magazines and general coolness. I miss them.

ambika said...

The only magazines I enjoy anymore are music magazines, too, come to think of it. I don't think we get Mojo here but I'm sure I could track it down at a newsstand if I tried.

Oh! And in response to your comment on M.I.A. I almost wish I knew the music she was referencing because then I think that might make the irony/nostaligia/familiarity that much more enjoyable? If that makes sense? I love her anyways but that has got to add a whole other level to listening to her.

Yohan said...

@ambika: I live(d) in Tamil Nadu, where the "dhinckak" beats MIA sometimes uses are all over TV and radio, so the humour and irony does come across quite a bit.

@Nisha: I've always loved 80's pop -- even the corny Phil Collins type ballads. And REM, U2, the Police - they were all class acts of the 80's. Have you heard the Stone Roses? The Jesus and Mary Chain? Worth checking out.

Perakath said...

See, you do have readers apart from me and Yohan! (I hope we were the two boys you referred to...)

Getting old, eh, Flopshow?

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Yeah, I'm getting old..

Ambika: it's actually a bit easier when I don't understand.. one possible upshot of having recognisable tunes sampled is that I get distracted from what she herself is saying. But I really enjoy the two-level thing you speak of.
Do try Mojo sometime- it's a good read most months, particularly if they're dealing with a genre or musician that you like.
Yohan: The cheesy pop along the lines of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun I've always loved, and the acts you mentioned are good (particularly the Stone Roses, who are great. And U2 have never quite matched their late-80s and 90s stuff) but as I said, the Smiths came first for me.

Teresa said...

I miss ElleGirl so much. It contained the right amount of wit and cool without being too preachy. Why can't Seventeen fold? The incest-myspace love-teen murder exposes are so tired.

Jennifer said...

I miss elle girl, it was the best teen magazine!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I forgot to mention Seventeen...heaven knows it's really deteriorated.
ElleGirl is now an online site, and comes out in paper form in Korea and the Netherlands (I think), but it's really not the same as having a paper mag in English.

donna AND navaz said...

We used to work for CosmoGIRL! and I totally agree with what you've said. Alas, magazines are a business and a struggling one at that. If they're not making money (eg Ellegirl), the publishers waste no time in killing them off - warning or no warning. The problem (as I understand it) with Ellegirl was that it was just too cool. Elle as a brand is very London orientated and much as I adore Steph Stevens' styling (Ellegirl fashion editor), it was sometimes considered too way out for your average teen. Even I would struggle at CosmoGIRL to do anything remotely cool. Ankle socks and heels? Oh NO!!! (This was my editor's pet hate.) Anything grungy was out of the question and god forbid if you ever wanted to do a shot in front of a barbed wire fence (too urban)! Ultimately, their research showed that readers wanted real life stories and celebrity fashion (yuk) and more importantly, they didn't want to pay for a magazine when they can get all that stuff free online. It is sad. I grew up on Just Seventeen and Smash Hits but times change and we have to move on. Now I get my fix from Lula...and blogging!


Le Portillon said...

I miss ElleGirl too, although it wasn't as good during the last couple of months as it was in like 03-04..
However, most of all I miss The Face. I still cannot understand why such a wonderful creative magazine had to close.

Perakath said...

Was Smash Hits a fashion mag or a music mag? I think I have an old compilation cd called Smash Hits somewhere, that came with a magazine...

blushing apples said...

i miss elle girl! but may they all rest in peace!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Navaz: Thanks for coming by, it's interesting to have the insight of a person who actually worked for a magazine. I suspect you're right, too, though it's a sad reason for ElleGirl to close. Ah, well. Blogging and Lula (especially the latter) are as good a way of getting a fix as any..
le portillon: I suspect those last few issues may have been the ones they started work on or put out after the announcement of the closure. And The Face was brilliant while it lasted, but Navaz's explanation may be applicable here too- it was just too cool.
blushing apples: yes, I agree. May they rest in peace, hopefully we got what we needed to from them while they were still around.

indie said...

I miss ElleGirl so much too!!!!
I'm so sad I didn't get more issues of it. I enjoy going through all the issues, it was such a wonderful magazine, I almost couldn't believe it was a teen magazine. It wasn't even that expensive (3.20 euros here) to pick up every month <3____<3
Oh god it brings back so many memories, I usually bought it after my ballet classes to get something to read when I was in train..

Melissa said...

As a former ELLEgirl editor, thanks for the shout-outs. We all miss it too!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Melissa: thanks for coming by! And a belated thanks must go to you and your team for the magazine, I reiterate: it was great while it lasted.

deexdeexdreamer said...

iv indulged in much-a-existenstial mope about the demise of ELLEgirl ( i was hooked on the UK edition here in blighty)...i never quite have gotten my closure, why?!

but s'cool. Now i got Lula


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