13 August 2007

Not your grandmother's magazine anymore

My aunts and I have a magazine exchange. My aunts are in their late 60s and early 80s. If all the magazines we exchanged each month were piled up, they would be almost two feet deep. Most of them are the usual magazines found on the coffee table or in the doctor's office: Family Circle, Redbook, Oprah, Martha Stewart, Newsweek, etc. I don't contribute much, especially along those lines, but do include my soon-to-NOT-be-renewed St. Anthony Messenger, This Old House, Aviation Week and some college alumni magazines. I used to get People, until I questioned myself as to why I was getting it (someone gave me a subscription at Christmas and I just kept renewing) and more recently, Cooks, until I figured that I knew a dozen different ways to serve hamburger so who needed to venture off into the unknown. I used to have gift subscriptions to Catholic Family News, The Wanderer and New Oxford Review, but have let them lapse.

Recently, as I gathered the pounds of magazines sitting around my house to get them together to be sent over to my other aunt's house, I questioned what we were really reading. Actually, I don't read many of the magazines my aunt passes along to me. I admit to reading Martha Stewart, mostly for her Q&A advice column and I page through Newsweek, but the rest I don't look at. In fact, I told my aunt years ago to not even send me the Oprah magazine because Oprah is way on the other end of the New Age scale for me. Too touchy-feely, everything is neat and easy. My aunt gets it because she likes a deal. The cover price is astronomical and she gets it fairly cheaply, so that's the reason she's been renewing. I think this may be a common occurrence among older ladies.

Maybe I should've told my aunt that I didn't want the magazines, that I wasn't reading them, because now I'm wondering what to do.

Over the weekend, we were at Walmart to get some last minute items for the birthday party. As we were standing in line at the checkout, I briefly noticed the cover of Oprah. Listed on the cover as what to read inside was some story on sex. Honestly, I don't remember what it was, but it struck me as very odd. I thought Oprah was all concerned about social issues and getting in touch with your inner self. Maybe improving things in this arena will cure what ails you and society.

What's a nice single gal doing with a story on sex in her magazine anyway?

After I unpacked last night and tried to pick things up, I gathered all my aunt's magazines together to give her today since she is heading up to her cabin for the week. Thought she would like to take something along to read. Then I looked at the rest of the magazines.

Saying that many of the articles in the magazines are inappropriate isn't really the whole story. Many of these magazines were what my grandmother used to read, we naively welcome them into our homes because they have always been there. But, many of these magazines haven't stayed stuck in the 1950s. They have updated to include many of the objectionable topics we don't want to watch on TV, the things we change the channel over. Here, next to my kids toys are magazines filled with sex, immorality and New Age ideas.

I'm a bit shocked (and embarrassed) to finally look at these things and see the junk that's in them. I didn't read many of them because I thought they WERE my grandmother's magazine and had nothing for me. Here I had been vigilant about not watching violent or adult-themed shows on TV and keeping as much of this junk away from my family as possible, only to find it sitting on my coffee table.

If my grandmother was alive, I am certain she would be appalled at the magazines she used to read to get a new and inventive recipe or to learn how to do her housework more quickly and efficiently, are full of stories that would make most adults blush. If they're not making you blush, they are busy trying to tell you how to expand your mind and channel your feelings, while showing you what color to paint your bedroom to make it more supportive of these ideas.

Now I need to fess up to my aunt that I haven't been reading these magazines for years and also tell her that I do have some suggestions about what magazines she should cancel and which ones she should continue to get (she recently asked me my thoughts on the subject). Cooks is looking better all the time.


Ma Beck said...

You know, it's not even the New Age crap that Oprah peddles that bothers me - those people are a dime a dozen.
What I despise about O! (gag) is that she talks out of both sides of her mouth.
We're all supposed to be socially conscious (your kids are supposed to save their pennies to send to Africa - no kidding), but O's Christmas show is an orgy of conspicuous consumerism. From her $100 shampoos to her "In all 7 colors" $400 pullovers, I want to vomit every year when it's covered on the news.
She calls these items "Must-haves."
Well, I'm sick and damn tired of her implying that ANYONE must have a $400 piece of clothing when children are starving and $400 could feed their entire family for a year or more.
Oprah is a clotheshorse, a material whore.
I think people assume that if you give a billion dollars to this charity or build a well in this village, you're excused from the "Slavery to material possessions is bad for the individual AND bad for society" notion.
I don't disparage O her Bentley or her nice home, but she is peddling an IDEA of happiness to Jane Housewife which is completely and utterly false.
(Not to mention these dolts are likely running up their credit cards to the sky to buy this crap.)
Oprah, if you're going to have million dollar parties to celebrate your birthday, how about not publicizing it?
She's the biggest fraud in modern history.
You think Oprah gives two craps about ANYTHING but herself and her pampered, spoiled "dogbabies" when it's all said and done?
Her words say one thing, but her Christmas show's nauseating overindulgence says another.
Sorry for the rant.
Flame away, O-lovers.

swissmiss said...

No, Ma, I'm not going to flame you about Oprah, but tell you I agree completely! What you brought up is the same thing I told my aunt (a wee bit more sanitized though) about some of the reasons I don't want to have Oprah in our magazine rotation. Yetch!! It's the same with many in Hollywood. They want everyone to give to causes but think that their "making appearances" for the causes is being very generous in and of itself. Gag. You hear stories about the latest cause where they have 20 celebrities all promoting it and appearing, but they only raise $50K. That's nothing to these people and that's all they raise? Start putting your pocket book where your mouth is!

Al Gore wants us to reduce our carbon footprint, but uses more resources than my entire neighborhood. I could rant about this stuff, too. Drives me nuts.

:o) said...

I quit getting all the Redbooks and Ladies Home Journal (not to mention Glamour and others when I was younger) because they are filled with negativity. You can never be good enough, rich enough, thin enough, sexy enough..you get the idea. I was sick of it. I do get Martha and was given a subscription to Real Simple.

tara said...

Everything ma beck said--ditto.
Like you, swissmiss, my magazine pile grew bigger and bigger--now I only have one magazine--This Rock. All the others just have a bunch of advertisements for totally useless stuff. I have to admit, I do like Martha Stewart--no doubt she was mean, but the work she produced is good--she has talent.

As for Oprah--she has been taken over by secular society--caved to making money--and the thing that bugs me the worst is she wears big giant diamond crosses around her neck--is she trying to make us think she really is Christian, or trying to convince herself?

Entropy said...

Oh my gosh, I just wrote the longest comment and it got lost in the ether some where! argh.

Sleepiness requires me to sum up.
Playing Devil's Advocate (horrible phrase) but I think Oprah should be able to spend her money how she pleases. She gives a lot of money to the very poor (and makes sure everyone knows it) and if she wants to give away $400 pullovers, pocket change for her, at Christmas to whiny blubbering women who weep at the sight of her and could not afford such extravagant gifts...so be it.

Oprah does do some good. And we can't all be martyrs all the time.

I'm not even an O! fan. She's a little too in love with herself for me.

Ray from MN said...

I'd bet that millions of subscribers barely read magazines that they get.

I wonder if someone could figure out a way for a church or a school or some other charity to solicit contributions of magazines that are less than a month old and perhaps sell them to others for a quarter?

Some magazines that are "collectable" like National Geographic might be acceptable at any age.

Keeping the junk and unsaleable magazines away might be a major problem.

swissmiss said...

:O and Tara:
It's funny how the convicted felon is acceptible :) If there weren't so many ads, maybe I'd read more of Martha, but I pretty much only get to the Q&A section.

Entropy/Devil's Advocate:
Yes, Oprah can spend her money however she chooses, but the problem is she is in a position to influence people and society in general (look at what happens when she makes a book club selection and the book then tops the best sellers list). If Oprah quietly went about spending her money and doing and she pleased, while some of it still may be sinful, at least she wouldn't be dragging impressionable folks with her. If you don't believe people actually listen to Oprah or others like her, I can give you my mother-in-law's phone number ;} She believes that if it's on TV it is true, or great or wonderful! Worse than that, is my husband's grandmother who believes that OJ was innocent because the cops framed him (as seen on TV). She does do good, but she does do bad (as Ma Beck said) too. Sorry about losing your comment...had to turn on comment moderation lately because of my atheist friends and another person.

Some of the subscriptions my aunt gets "cheap" are through schools as a fund raiser! She's really been wanting to cut back on her subscriptions (it was way out of hand), so I'll have some suggestions this time.

gemoftheocean said...

What I really resent is how messed up the Catholic Digest became. I LIKED it's old fashioned ways..then some other entity bought it out and made it very sappy, and not fit to wrap fish in.

Karen H. -- San Diego, Ca.

swissmiss said...

Catholic Digest kind of reminds me of St. A Messenger. When George Clooney is on the cover, something is wrong. Too bad you have to be careful of everything!

Anonymous said...

I finally gave up reading People when they had a photo of a gay football player and his lover laying in bed with "their" kids. I wouldn't even use that piece of drek to line the cat litter box anymore.

Angela M.