Wednesday, May 10, 2000

End of an era?

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Isn’t Details dead yet?! The official magazine of mid-’90s, ironic-yet-conspicuous consumerism, was rumored to have gone to JFK Jr.’s locker last month, yet here it is again, filling page after page with banal, occasionally useful, mostly perplexing tidbits of nothingness. Since it’s so easy to digest, Details has always been good bathroom reading, but it’s never been filled with such shit.

Check out the Details Web site and they’ll tell you that the mag’s going on a publishing hiatus and will be back in October. If the folks pulling the strings at Conde Nast are wise, they’ll realize that there’s an either-or dichotomy at work here. Either you provide content that will engage the reasonably intelligent reader or, in this age of hyper-media synergy, you sell out the content and regurgitate glossy faux news, celebrity photo-ops and empty calorie witticism cranked out by bored freelancers.

Details once walked the line between these two worlds effectively, but that was when people weren’t wise and the world wasn’t post-ironic. In this May ish, readers are teased with stories about a career-aptitude testing center that is really just a vapid journal entry about the experience of one "writer." They don’t even go down that tried-and-true path of wild overgeneralization based upon personal experience that has worked for journalists for so long. Instead, the story goes nowhere. Worse still is the "conceptual" cover story that places model James King in a handful of archetypal movie roles to see how our budding young starlet would fare. It’s a thinly veiled excuse to publish soft-core cleavage photos of the waif who would be more at home in the similarly vacant mag MovieLine.

All this is to bemoan the sorry state of the lifestyle publishing industry. What was once the domain of intelligent folks writing wittily about our wicked culture is now a mere vehicle for truly cynical product placement. But we all knew that, didn’t we, kids?

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