Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Decline and Fall of ‘Gentlemen’s Quarterly’

GQ, the premier style magazine for the modern male metrosexual, just hit rock bottom.
The final straw in the magazine’s decade-long decline in quality came last week when a frequent contributor named Drew Magary wrote an absolutely shameful, hateful rant titled “Fuck Ben Carson.” Yes, that's the headline – in a major mainstream magazine – and the article itself is just as uncivil and devoid of intellectual depth as its title. 
Inexplicably incensed by the Republican presidential candidate Carson’s recent comments about fighting back in life-or-death situations such as the Oregon community college shooting, Magary complained that “the Good Doctor made it clear this week that he is not only willing to replicate [candidate Donald] Trump’s signature brand of hot-garbage-spewing, but he’ll say even DUMBER shit.”
Keep in mind that Carson is a world-renowned brain surgeon and arguably the most genuinely articulate and thoughtful of any would-be President on either side of the fence, while the considerably less accomplished Magary here exhibits all the profane vocabulary and intellectual horsepower of a junior high school student.
For the record, Ben Carson is not my choice for President; I would find the headline just as repellent if, say, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton had been the target. And the issue isn’t about clutching one’s pearls over the use of profanity; there is a time and occasion for swearing heartily, but this level of hateful crudity has no place in a major mainstream publication, particularly one with the word “gentlemen” in the name.
GQ apparently disagrees; it proudly tweeted a link to the article, and Twitterers on both the left and right properly expressed disgust and disapproval:
Far from taking this criticism to heart and offering an apology/retraction, Magary and GQ doubled down two days later with this snarky, insulting attack on angry “Fox News viewers,” whom they derided as old and out-of-touch – as if the issue is age and hipness rather than civility and class. They doubled down on the profanity too: “Trust me,” Magary taunted,
“Fuck Ben Carson” will not be the last time this magazine shouts FUCK (Politician’s Name Here)! Because, for real, they can ALL get fucked eternally. We pride ourselves on thoroughly objective profane rants against terrible people. Like Ben Carson!”
For all his false claim to being fair and balanced, this is what the politicization of the magazine has led to: openly sneering at anyone who disagrees with GQ’s position and with the vile manner in which they expressed it. What was once a quality men’s style magazine has degenerated into just another celebrity-fetishizing, divisive, leftist mouthpiece in popular culture.
Gentlemen's Quarterly was launched under a different name in 1931 essentially as a men's fashion trade magazine, but by 1957 it had grown beyond industry insiders. It was renamed GQ in 1967 and grew to monthly publication in 1970. After Condé Nast bought the mag in 1980, it strove to compete with Esquire by introducing articles of general interest beyond fashion. For many years it flourished as a sort of more reputable alternative to Playboy as a lifestyle guide for adult men.
Then Jim Nelson was named editor-in-chief in February 2003, and the mag began to skew toward younger readers and to adopt a more casual tone. That tone turned increasingly profane and juvenile (as did the culture itself) and the writers’ voices began to sound like those of upscale frat boys, until hitting the nadir of Magary’s article.
Over that same time frame, GQ also went sharply political. Nelson, who is gay and progressive, made no bones in a 2004 interview about his aim of steering the magazine in that direction:
“When I got the job, right away… I was already thinking about how we could be a relevant magazine as a monthly and engage in political issues that I cared about in the months and the year leading up to the election. I wanted political stories—important political stories—in every single issue.”
Even if the magazine insists on promoting a strong political stance, at the very minimum the mature, gentlemanly thing to do is disagree respectfully with its opponents, instead of giving them the finger. And at the very minimum, a publication called Gentlemen’s Quarterly should strive to maintain a standard of manners and dignity in the face of our culture’s plunging trajectory into juvenility and profanity, instead of reveling in offensiveness with all the glee of a Beavis and/or Butthead. Sadly, Magary and Nelson would no doubt dismiss such an expectation as old and out-of-touch.
As for Ben Carson, what was his response to GQ’s and Magary’s attack? Ever the gentleman, Carson calmly told Fox News, “I think we should pray for them.”

From Acculturated, 10/13/15