Esquire’s August 2014 cover
My wife will try to snag the copies of GQ and Esquire that get delivered to the house each month before I do (good thing I also subscribe to both on my iPad). When I first pointed out an article in GQ to her about a year ago, she was shocked as she flipped through the rest of the book.
“This is actually really good,” she said with only a little bit of hesitation.
It seems odd to praise magazines and catalog their merits in a day when print is dying, but there are scores of magazines that are pumping out decent content each and every month, as they have, in some cases, for decades. Esquire and GQ, in particular, didn’t succumb to the pressure Maxim unleashed on the genre 15 years ago, when even Playboy adopted the “dumber, shorter” editorial policy. As a result, along with nifty iPad apps that make use of all the multimedia offerings of the platform, those magazines remain relevant.
My wife compared GQ to the heavyweight of women’s magazines, Cosmopolitan. Yes, as a rule, magazines geared to one gender or another are supposed to play to stereotypes and, while they’re at it, our vanity. GQ, for example, still uses disgustingly good-looking and tragically thin male models to push styles I will never wear. Esquire, meanwhile, explains in this month’s issue that it opted to put Cameron Diaz on its cover over a picture teasing an incredible article on pit bulls or, it’s third choice, a photo highlighting its profile of Lance Armstrong in life after disgrace. Escquire also suggests I spend $1,095 on a overnight bag from Ghurka. Sorry Esquire, it’s wasn’t too long ago when the car I would take on overnight trips cost less than the bag you are saying is a must have.
But hidden in those pages is lots of substance. This year Esquire has been focusing on the state of the American boy. In the process it has become a leading critical voice against the over-reliance on ADD and DHD drugs like Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse. Esquire has raised some questions that need answers, including whether or not we are mislabeling “boyhood” as some psychological disorder like ADHD. Last month the series turned to took a data- and expert-driven look at the importance of fatherhood.
Perhaps this is a backlash to feminism and a world where every kid that signs up gets a trophy and the angst in alternative music has been replaced with heavy doses of emo. But women’s magazines, which are the most formulaic of the bunch, arguably do more to set back feminism. Whereas men’s magazines try to portray men as they should be, or as they should strive to be, women’s magazines seem to still be stuck on portraying women as stereotypes. Put another way, if I had teenaged children, I’d have far less concerns with a son who wanted an Esquire subscription than I would witha daughter who wanted to subscribe to Cosmo.