I find the best measure of adulthood resides in a person's character rather than their age, wage, or ability to buy alcohol. In this sense I strive to become a man who occasionally acts childish rather than a boy who occasionally acts mature. The shift in balance between the two is a rough road riddled with mistakes. For many men, this road seems to be getting longer. Countless forms of media play their part in stretching the road to adulthood for many men. Magazines are doing much more damage than we realize.
Magazines are a long-lasting and critical medium through which culture is defined, debated, analyzed, and challenged. Throughout history, magazines have featured some of the best journalism the world has ever seen. Unlike many other publications or types of media, magazines are constantly reflecting the time and social space they occupy and inform. They have the ability to cater to surprisingly specific audiences and communicate with those audiences in meaningful ways. Like most publications, the power of magazines rests not only in the nature of the information they present, but how they choose to present it.
For years, news outlets have bemoaned the dangers of violent video games, sexually provocative television shows and internet porn. There are so many negative medias readily available to young men, but so little discussion about the positive medias that could otherwise occupy their attention. Magazines are often viewed as a comparatively positive influence and perhaps they are a small step in the right direction. I suppose reading about naked women is better than simply watching them on a screen. For decades, men have used magazines as their introductions to the female form. Depending on their generation, these magazines may vary from National Geographic, Playboy, Sport's Illustrated or Maxim.
Men's lifestyle magazines offer young men detailed looks into the realm of manhood, often departmentalizing masculinity into easily digestible chunks. Men can trust lifestyle magazines to discuss health, finance, intimacy, and style as it relates to men specifically, which is undoubtedly a great service. However, the nature of this information, and the manner in which it is presented could mean the difference between a publication that lifts men up and empowers them to achieve their greatest forms through hard work and honorable means, or a publication that glorifies expensive clothes, fast cars, a ripped physique, and short-lived, emotionless intercourse with unrealistically attractive women.
Mere seconds of thought will make you realize that most magazines choose the latter route. But why?
The short answer: it sells.