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.
Camille Paglia strikes again!
3 hours ago