Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Print Out (Part 2)

There has been some hype about Genre magazine relaunching with some significant changes, and since I had previously identified it as providing the least value in major gay lifestyle magazines, I was curious to see if there would actually be any improvements or not. I was a little surprised to find that it is pretty much the same, and certainly provides no new reason to select it off the newsstand instead of any of its competitors.

The changes to the magazine were promised by its new editor-in-chief, Neal Boulton. To create buzz around any such changes, he characterized them as being part of trend towards a "post gay America". The concept is so ludicrous I won't waste space discussing it here, but will summarize that Boulton wanted to use it as an excuse to make Genre a more generic (i.e. less distinctively gay) mens magazine. To clarify, he is looking for some way to sell more subscriptions and increase newsstand sales and his thought is that he can do it by broadening his target market segment to be all men.

Boulton said in his inaugural editor's letter that he wanted Genre to be a "magazine for every man". That's strange, because looking through the first issue it is not clear how a story about a gay porn star or a gay rugby team would necessarily appeal to "every man".

The new editor also explained that gay interests like wanting a hot car, a hot body, and hot clothes are things that everyone else in America shares. How out of a touch can a person be? Straight men are still buying pickup trucks, chowing to excess at the Golden Corral buffet, and buying their "good" clothes at Wal-Mart.

The truth is, that like detergent companies that add an extra drop of fragrance to their product and call it "new and improved", Boulton so far has made minor changes for show instead of working on the actual quality of what he is trying to sell. To me it looks like the same magazine except for two things. One is that the front cover is trying to mimic tabloids by emphasizing the proven trick of using numbers to convince people that there is a lot of material inside (e.g "101 Ways to ..."). The second thing, in the October issue, is a two page spread on motorcycles. Actually, it was only a one page article with a facing title page consisting primarily of a picture of one motorcycle. In usual Genre tradition, the magazine makes sure it doesn't overwork its writers. Ditto for the page on Manuka Mule - a whole page for instructions on making a drink consisting of four ingredients. I'd like to be the person who got paid for those two minutes worth of work.

I will give credit for reducing the number of pages devoted to average Joe's. While some in the past have been good to look at, their inane answers to even dumber questions only showed what useless slugs they are.

Unfortunately for the magazine, it may intentionally be moving further away from having any raison d'etre at all. If looking for a real gay lifestyle magazine, for four cents less on the cover price, Instinct would a better deal. The October issue of Genre and the November issue of Instinct both had 96 pages (including Genre's useless 15 page "special advertising section") but Instinct just has more worthwhile copy in it. Genre took me less than 10 minutes to go through it cover to cover, while I am still not done with Instinct as it always takes several sittings to get through.