Saturday, November 05, 2005


Sex Sells, But Pubic Hair Doesn't

One of the few news items that has grated in the last few days - well, alright, last week, was the controversy over 'Zoo' magazine. For the few who don't know, Zoo is a 'lad's mag', filled with pictures of cars, a bit of gore, sport, and lots and lots of very puerile, safe, page-3 standard toplessness, which I won't even award the name of 'nudity' to, because it doesn't deserve it.

They got into a bit of bother the other week by advertising a competition to win a breast enlargement (or, in fact, as hasn't been mentioned very much, alternatively a reduction) for the winner. Predictably, complaints were sent in to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming that it would 'coerce' people into having surgery they didn't want, and that it objectified women.

The ASA upheld the first complanits, and rejected the second, but the damage was done, and the media sprang happily into their now bi- or tri-annual panic over the suitability of 'lad's mags.'

By and large, I tend towards agreeing with the sentiments expressed here, that essentially lads mags are childish, boring and read by the sort of desperate saddos who are too afraid to do the decent thing and buy some real pornography. Come on, mate, saddle up your testicles, pull yourself together, and head behind that blacked-out frontage, and then you'll find something genuinely erotic.

I have to say I can't understand the media panic, but then again, when can I? To take the 'boob job' issue first - any complainant who felt that the advert should be banned because the proceedure is dangerous is in cloud cuckoo land - if the prize money was only to be spent on a breast enhancement (and it turned out in the end it didn't have to be), 'Zoo' would have got the single best plastic surgeon in the land. Do you really think they would risked the terrible publicity, headlines in Guardian saying 'Zoo massacred my mammaries?' I don't.

Does it objectify women? I have had cause to moan about this slippery phrase before - women who appear in the media, outside of the news, and the same goes for men, do so out of choice. However, this situation is a little different. Were a lady to be physically strapped to an operating table by her boyfriend, forcing her against her will to have a proceedure she really didn't want, that would constitute both a moral disgrace and a felony. If truth be told, though, since it later emerged that nobody was being forced to have a breast enlargement, and indeed the prize came in the form of cash that could be spent however the winner wanted, the point seems very, very moot.

Now for the idea that it's some kind of national disaster that a fourteen year old could buy 'Nuts.' That link is a complete waste of time - it takes five or ten minutes to read, in order to tell you something you really already know - editors of these magazines are vaguely sad, have dragged themselves up to do something exceedingly puerile, and get very well paid for doing so. Meanwhile, female writers in the Guardian are still stuck in the bra-burning phase, and appear completely unaware that the world has moved on (unless it hasn't - more about this later this week). Ultimately, so what? When I was fourteen, my friends and I bought these magazines every month, and were already drinking quite heavily. By fifteen, we had dozens of the things, and went on a booze-holiday to Spain. People grow up faster nowadays - and, if you ask me, neither the feminists nor the softcore peddlers have really got to grips with that fact.


While on the subject, Mark Holland raised a very interesting question the other day - 'Rome' was superb on Wednesday night, thoroughly enjoyable and nicely tongue-in-cheek, but was in historically accurate? Specifically, was the very un-hirsute nature of the female participants who showed us all a real reflection of the style of the time?

I stated that, so far as I know, it was common for the elite to shave, and the plebs not to, but I would welcome any expertise on the subject.


Meanwhile, in the hills, the Welsh are having problems of their own - specifically, apparently nobody wishes to see 'Hamlet' in Welsh. To be precise, fewer people were in the audience than on stage. Oh dear. I think this has to go down as one of history's worst ideas, a complete egg.

Oh, and the key lines?

'Bod neu beidio รข bod/ Dyna'r dewis/
Ai dewrach dioddef yn feddyliol/
aethau ac ergydion mympwyol ffawd?'

Catchy. Very catchy.

What the fuck do you think you're staring at, boyo?

I thought Rome was a bit of a disappointment. There was some diabolical acting in it, mainly from the lead characters. Mind you, I watched it to the end and I'll probably tune in next week too. Can't think why.
I think you're right, Hungbunny. I was really looking forward to Rome and felt a bit let down, however I hope it get's better. I intend to stick with it for now.
Lad Mags: I don't know as we have exactly the same thing here in the states. I suppose "Maxim" qualifies. Not sure. No one's entertaining any notions of banning the silly roll of toilette tissue, however. Egads, you started drinking pretty young, if you weren't exaggerating. Is that typical in the UK?
Of course, being 33 and with no pubescent acquaintances, it could very well be that this is normal here as well. I can only state that it didn't seem to be that way for me.

Hamlet in Welsh:What were they trying to accomplish? Sometimes I think people come up with these ideas and, without really trying to formulate a goal, go about things with the hope that they'll have turned out to be "a good idea at the time".
I echo the sentiments on Rome... I have no problems with nudity and violence in TV shows and films, indeed like most blokes I happen to think they often make a good movie, but I thought that it was perhaps a little gratuitous on this occasion.

Again, however, I'll probably watch it again. After all, she was quite good-looking, as I recall.
Well, I have to say I'm quite surprised. I did really enjoy it, but most other folk seem to have given it a rather lukewarm reception like your own.

We'll return to this topic after this week's episode.
SafeT - actually, that's really rather normal in Blighty. I used to imagine that British drinking culture must be inherently better than the American one, because let's face it, there's much more of one here, but it's not really better, or indeed worse, just different.

I can't believe Hamlet in Welsh even seemed like that good an idea at the time.
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