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5 Reasons This Article Is Useless

tang
When did it start these articles solely comprised of numerical lists? Is it the natural evolution from magazine covers;”50 New Looks For Spring” “15 Ways To Make Him Swoon” “10 Tricks To Getting A Proposal”? At some point it was discovered that people respond to Arabic numerals. (You will never see a magazine cover emblazoned with “Twelve Ways To Spruce Up Your Pantry” or “IX Ways To Rock His World”.)

Numerical lists are really only compatible with the most practical of subjects. No one needs flowery exposition on stain removal. Just tell us which 10 items will work best on synthetics. Anything that involves shopping certainly warrants only lists and photos. The average person will slip into unconsciousness having to read anything about high-waisted pants beyond; ‘buy them now’. But articles about human relationships, education, politics, and culture do not lend themselves to bullet points. However numbered lists sell and therein lays the conundrum.

The writer who pens a fully fleshed out piece is pressured to insert numbers (in the title and the body). A writer seeking readership might resort to creating lists versus narrative. There is usually some measure of disappointment for the reader in discovering that the “10 Guys You Should Avoid At All Costs” is a list of 5 guys whose description is vague enough to cover every man who’s walked the earth and 5 guys who are such caricatures as to be more suited to science fiction.

Part of the appeal of these lists passing as content is our attention span as readers. We’re at the point at which we consider a 140 character Tweet to be ‘wordy’. If an email stretches beyond a paragraph (and it better be a tight paragraph) we’ve lost the reader. This love of condensed and concentrated delivery unfortunately extends to the theatre as well. Theatre producers regularly consider the length of a play before mounting a production. Some artistic directors even apologize for a full-length production. The good news is that the trend can’t continue forever. We are not going to devolve into communicating solely through grunts and emoticons. We will probably never revert back to four-hour movies (with intermissions). But some bounce back will occur. People will tire of Tang, they usually do. A new generation is bound to ‘discover’ meaningful and full-length content.

Now I did promise to list 5 Reasons This Article Is Useless. But I trust you dear reader to compile that list on your own.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Media/Marketing

 

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Springtime For Galliano

The Producers

The fashion industry isn’t exactly known for its high ideals. It is an industry that maintains its mystique with a finely orchestrated and rarified air of exclusivity. It is an intricate web of people and professions with a handful of uniquely talented people. At the very center of the web are the design houses. There is usually one person (perhaps with the same name as the label) at the core of the house and hundreds if not thousands surrounding him/her. The work is done by; designers, merchandisers, buyers, sewers, fitters, publicists, and so on and so on. The larger web of the fashion industry consists of media, models, hair & make-up technicians, event planners…and so on and so on. It is a vast industry that’s profitability is dependent upon the marketability of those few at the center of the web.

If the (buying) public doesn’t believe in the unique fabulousness of a designer or brand the brand fails. Nobody needs a designer garment. Unless you are a collector (of which there are very few) a high priced item is not an investment, in fact it is most likely a seasonal item. What the industry relies on is the profitability of its glamour. Consumers are not buying an expensive shirt they are buying a (insert designer name.) The result is an entire industry predicated on being cool. In every area of the fashion world people are vying to be the coolest kid in the class. And just like high school, the pursuit doesn’t bring out the best in people.

Models engage in some dark behavior, as do the people who hire them. Media can make or break careers and often do. This power can result in some unattractive goings on (young have been eaten.) The media are of course the most closely aligned with designers & labels. They’re the head cheerleader and the quarterback if you will. Together they are a beacon of popularity and power. Intricate and unseemly relationships are forged and maintained and all their minions profit from the alliance. And at times the alliance can be wholly unholy.

When those in a position (they have carefully cultivated) of power defend, support and protect a man convicted of anti-Semitic and racial remarks no one should be all that surprised. That so many people have had a hand in aiding and abetting Mr. Galliano is a bit of a surprise however. In 2011 when the news broke and a video was produced of Galliano’s vitriolic tirade, it was not surprising when Natalie Portman spoke out and dropped out of a Dior campaign. It was not surprising when Dior let Galliano then go. It wasn’t surprising when a stylist (aka professional shopper) known for her work in a Candace Bushnell franchise, rallied to Mr. Galliano’s defense comparing his actions to that of Mel Brooks. (The surprise would’ve been if she had said anything less outrageous.) In the two years since Galliano’s exposure Oscar de la Renta and Anna Wintour (and their followers) have been quietly and clandestinely grooming him for his comeback. It is reported that Ms. Wintour secured a mysterious position for Galliano with de la Renta. Together they have created a precise scenario designed to remind people of Galliano’s talent while keeping their hands technically clean. Galliano has no official title, but the (media created) buzz is that he was behind the Fall 2013 line.

People make mistakes and should not lose their entire lives because of a drunken outburst. But Mr. Galliano still denies just about everything and has yet to apologize publicly. It is unlikely that the tirade wasn’t a reflection of his true feelings. People rarely do anything drunk that they didn’t wish they could do sober. A person should be allowed to have their thoughts and feelings; as long as they’re kept private. If a camera had not captured the ugliness most people would never know, but there’s no unringing that bell. Instead what we have is an ousted and shamed designer who is having his popularity secretly rehabilitated by the head cheerleader and the quarterback.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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Dear Ms. Magazine

Happy Birthday Ms. Magazine!  It seems like only yesterday when you were born.  It must be annoying to hear that over and over again.  40, wow!  You look great!  Really you do.  Don’t give me that look, it’s okay to care about your looks if you’re a feminist, don’t try that on me.  You look great, really.  You know a lot of other magazines have very bloated advertising, and a rather eerie glossy finish.  But not you.  Yes you’ve freshened yourself up over the years, but that’s what keeps you modern and relevant.

Do you remember the first time you came to my house?  Me neither.  But I remember you being there in those early years.  My housewife mother must have heard about you at her consciousness-raising group and invited you home.  I’m guessing you got passed around a bit.  Household expenditures were tightly monitored (it was the 70s after all, things were tough all over.)  Come to think of it, it took some chutzpah to start a magazine outside of the standard advertising model on the cusp of the recession, didn’t it?  But you never did shy from a challenge.  They laughed at you.  I know you remember that.  Who did you think you were?  A serious magazine for women?  A business run by women?  They said a lot worse too.

It must have been hard at times, all that bullying.  They even made fun of your name.  You know, that name that is now a standard fixture in the English language; appearing on all official documents and forms?  You were the first to talk about abortion openly, instigating untold honest conversations and sharing in homes across the country.  You shone the spotlight on domestic violence, helping to place the shame where it belongs; on the perpetrators.  You gave voice to issues that often had no visible champion.  You helped us to understand our bodies and minds and how they can work.

You never have been popular.  I don’t mean that to be hurtful, it’s actually praise.  Who wants to be adored by the masses?  It’s far more satisfying to be loved by those who ‘get us.’  You did come along at the right time, that’s for sure.  No one was rolling out a red carpet or anything.  No, no.  But the swelling of bias and bigotry awareness of the early 1970s was a boon to Ms. and feminism.  Even the most misogynistic would begrudgingly admit that 51% of the population should be treated equally.  Not so far as enacting the ERA or anything, but wait, no sad stories, this is your birthday!

Milestone birthdays can be affirming but they can also be a bit jarring.  It’s a gift to age, to survive!  While no one wants to live in the past, it is the shared memories that give us a feeling of being a collective.  How many remember when grown women were routinely called ‘girls?’  Remember when we didn’t even have names?!  We were Mrs. Robert Smith or Mrs. Nathan Green.  We not only keep our first and last names now, but sometimes a man actually takes a woman’s name (gasp!)

I remember that you were the only magazine in our house, quite possibly ever.  I’ve no doubt you played some part in my mother returning to school and becoming the writer she always longed to be.  You probably had a hand in the household responsibilities being distributed to all family members (yeah that was just great, thanks!)  I can see your handiwork now, in my own outlook on life.  I struggle, like I know you do, with the backlash of some of our progress.  There are times I thought we’d be further ahead by now.  I know you know.  We still have work to do don’t we Ms.?  Maybe 40 really is the new 30!  Happy Birthday Ms. and thank you.  Now get back to work.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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