The Advocate has been redesigned. Color me unimpressed. This magazine, which has been totally irrelevant to me since about 1983, now comes in a glossier, more graphically pleasing format. More in tune with the upscale professional lifestyle we urban gay men lead. The “heterosexual of the month” covers will have more shelf appeal. The marketing people have won. Note this announcement about news content from a recent editorial:
The Advocate has always been the leading source of in-depth analysis and original investigative reporting–the kind of forward-thinking news organization our discriminating readers demand. And now, beginning with this issue, in order to add new vibrancy to the way we do this, we’re pleased to debut a striking redesign…
The arts and media section has been expanded and integrated into the news section. Since gay arts and media stories can be significant political and social events, the new design does not draw conventional lines between news and entertainment. The most visible example of this philosophy is that The Buzz — where we report the inside scoop on the spiciest gay entertainment news — has been moved to the front of the magazine.
Isn’t that fabulous? At the Advocate, they know what’s really important. When we get tired of reading hard news, we can simply skip to the Madonna item on the next paragraph. Wow!! She’s REAL news. So is the White Party. And the latest dish on Ellen…
Not, of course, that this trend has been limited to the Advocate. Checked out your local news lately? Or better still, “Hard Copy”? OK…maybe O.J. Simpson really was the single most important news story of the past two years, but somehow I doubt it.
Lest I sound like I’m against the idea of a gay entertainment publication, I’m not. I more or less write one. What bugs me is that the Advocate has the audacity to call itself a NEWS magazine for the gay “community”, when essentially it has metamorphosized into a queer version of People or Entertainment Weekly, targeted at a very specific audience.
Which is all fine and dandy; that’s what today’s media marketing frenzy is all about. That’s the reason that instead of “rock” stations, “pop” stations, “country” stations, and “R&B” stations, we now have “alternative adult contemporary hits” stations (which translates to mellow “new wave” for those in their late 20’s and early 30’s) and “classic hits of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s with no be-bop or hard rock” stations. To question this would be to question all of advertising and demographic research.
But I digress. I was talking about news.
When I was a young fag, reading the Advocate was so much better than reading the local gay rags. The Advocate was real news, while the local papers were full of drag show reviews, bar openings, and tons of wire copy. The few local news stories were so biased and boosterish that they wouldn’t have passed muster in my junior high journalism class. A lot of the local gay press still is victim to this phenomenon — especially the “if it’s gay it has to be good no matter how bad it is” mentality.
The Advocate stood up for the “community” too. But it was different. It took more than 15 minutes to read a full issue. It said something.
No more, I guess.