media: recycling IS bad!

It’s not very difficult for me to feel vindicated, but I often set my sights fairly low, so it’s more of a laidback vindication. It mostly involves discovering a copy of a TV show or ad that only I–or 2 to 3 other random people–seem to have remembered, or seeing something that I’ve long noticed finally laid bare for all to see:

[flv:menshealth.flv 480 280]

Because TiVo, Comcast and the networks can’t all seem to decide on the proper timestamp, I’m always getting the previous closer or credits of a show before my recorded show starts. Well who should I see this morning while catching last night’s The Simpsons, but Brian Bolter pointing out the recycled cover text of Men’s Health magazine, which I’d been railing about for years since I got and subsequently canceled the subscription in the late 90s. You could stack a bunch up, read the spine teasers and it was sex tips, flat abs, lose your gut, easy workout tips, etc. More recently I’d see the magazines on the newsstand in the supermarket, but aside from noting who was on the cover, I barely gave them a second glance.

Well turns out that the cat is finally out of the bag. Making the rounds of the blogosphere and soft-news…osphere is the easily noticed similarity between the current cover with Taylor Lautner and the October 2007 one with Jason Statham. Turns out some more digging was done–not that I imagine it was difficult research–and it turns out their covers are a marriage between an overheard projector slide and a magnetic poetry kit.

I wish I hadn’t been so busy yesterday or I would have seen this story break a lot sooner. Gawker posted some images that make it plain as day…

Here’s a gallery of animated GIFs that’s taught us several things about Men’s Health:

  • Editor-in-chief David Zinczenko’s tolerance for coming up with creative ways for convincing old men that they don’t have to be fat anymore withered some time in 2004, and
  • Men’s Health doesn’t work. If you have to tell your readers how to “Get Back In Shape” ten times in four years, they’re not getting back in shape.
  • Men’s Health is lying when they claim to have exactly 1,293 or 1,093 or 2,143 of anything in their issue since they keep using the same numbers over and over again. Never trust a number on a magazine cover that’s over 30.

Rotating gallery of Mens Health covers advertising 6-pack abs

That’s just the Six Pack Abs collection, there’s also Lose Your Gut, Get Back in Shape and Flat-Belly Foods each with notes that call out the recycled sub-items as well.

It’s hardly surprising and it’s a staple in the magazine industry, mostly followed by womens’ and teen girls’ magazines, but as Men’s Health has been called out before for contributing to poor body self-images just as female-targeted magazines have, it’s nice to see people finally take notice that while these magazines may have an interesting interview and a good tip or two here and there, they’re mostly editors–not writers–throwing darts at a whiteboard of previously successful ideas and spitting out a magazine.

Of course, this phenomenon has been noted and made fun of before… at about 4:30 in, even Dawn can see it for what it is! :mrgreen:

I can’t say that I totally blame editors for doing this, it’s what works! But I hope that consumers will start to realize that if a magazine claims to have 1,293 new tips every other month that just maybe there’s something wrong with those numbers. While it might be cheaper, reading the same ol’ “tips” in a magazine pales in comparison to hiring a trainer or even busting out the Wii Fit to get yourself back in shape.

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1 Response

  1. CocteauBoy says:

    Wow, these are the kinds of things people usually dismiss or scoff at when someone would mention that an industry does something like that. It’s great to have all of these tools for cross-referencing so they can be called out.
    .-= latest entry: VLOG: The Choice for Love =-.

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