Is Death Not An Option?
Um, can I choose “neither”? Admittedly, the Atlantic article has a clever setup–given that with their puerile misogyny, proud idiocy, and not-quite-porn Maxim/FHM lad type lad magazines are pretty much the nadir of human culture, I guess anything, including Playboy‘s annoying and empty but generally harmless pretensions, would have to be better. And you can make a good case that George W. Bush is a better president than Andrew Johnson, but I’m not sure where this gets you. One thing that both genres have in common, however, is a homogeneous and ultimately dehumanizing conception of what women should look like, which is both bad for women and bad erotica. (I’m often not sure that “objectification” is a very useful term, but in these cases I think it fits perfectly.) Zobenica seems to think that exclusively pictures with the formula “on top is the face of Shirley Temple; below is the body of Jayne Mansfield” is a feature, a reminder that this is the fantasy of a 13-year-boy, not reality. But even for a 13-year old boy, isn’t this kind of, er, circumscribed? I guess the one thing you can say about the lad mags is that their adorning text fits the pictures even better than surrounding it with Norman Mailer’s latest claptrap about his waning libido.
…Dana Goldstein gets it pretty much right.