Sunday, November 05, 2006

My View of the New Yorker

A friend gave me an old copy of the New Yorker a few months ago, and I didn't really look at it until now. I knew it was the entertainment magazine of choice for intellectuals, so when I found the magazine in the pile of toys on the floor the other day I rescued it and started poking around. Just for background, my favorite "entertainment" magazines are Smithsonian and National Geographic. That gives you an idea of the kind of writing I prefer--lightweight, full of facts and informative, not dry. I also like a magazine to cover a broad variety of topics, and not play with my emotions at all. Especially when I'm pregnant.

I was sorely disappointed with the New Yorker. It is the intellectual equivalent to Especially for Mormons, or Reader's Digest. The New Yorker is full of intellectual smaltz. Of course, if any of my intellectual friends read this, they'll disagree. But there is a culture of intellectualism (perhaps I should capitalize it: Intellectuals), and the New Yorker feeds the sensibilities of that culture, with articles intended to manipulate the emotion just as much as the "my three kids died in a car accident but everything will be okay because I _felt_ something" or that stupid kid on the train tracks movie that Mormons get fed. Just instead of being fed warm fuzzy Heavenly Father Loves me stuff, the NYer is full of warm fuzzy liberal we are above traditional morality but part of a higher morality stuff.

And, for all of its acclaim, the writing was poor at best. It was wordy, rambling, "artsy" stuff--like "literary fiction" that I find so gaggy. It took each author at least a thousand more words to say what they wanted to say than they needed, and, in the end, I could restate most of it in one sentence--and a short sentence at that. Without leaving anything out.

And I was disappointed that, just like the pulp fiction they so disdain and the pop movies they disregard, the Intellectuals filled their magazine with sex and violence, just couched in many many words, or done openly (cartoons of naked women) with the attitude, "If you're offended, you are provincial, and Everybody Knows that provincial is Not As Good As I Am" because everybody who is anybody in the Intellectual world knows that people have sex, and so we should not ever need to be discreet about it, right? Of course, the Intellectuals would never admit that sex and violence are still tantalizing--even to them--so they verbalize it differently. But it's all the same stuff, just wrapped in different paper.

I finally threw it away.

Just for balance, I'll mention that I also hate The Reader's Digest. We got it for a year, and I read it cover to cover every month and felt like I'd wasted several hours each time (at least it was readable--the New Yorker is so poorly written that it's unreadable). It is the semi-educated housewife's equivalent to the New Yorker. Different audience, same goal and same result: we want to "entertain" by tickling your fancy and manipulating your emotions. Both magazines even use the same formula, with a combination of "news" (mostly science, health, and political news that is full of spin, several months outdated, and not truly informative or accurate), emotion-manipulating "real life" stories, and humor. Both magazines are a waste of time.

Most magazines are a waste of time.

Maybe I'll go bury my head in that article on the history of wigs that's in the old Smithsonian magazine I got in the free pile at the library.....

1 comment:

morelightthanburden said...

I agree, wholeheartedly!