Watch This Space – Published: 2 Dec 2005


Does this one suit your mood today?

This week I bought two men’s magazines: GQ and Esquire. Purely for research. Nothing else. (Not sure what to do with the free calendar, might have to hide it in the loft.)

I don’t buy these sorts of periodicals, ever. But I did have positive preconceptions about them, that both (Esquire in particular) aimed themselves at a sort of literate, successful, politically adjusted male with a broad worldly curiosity.

Sadly both seemed just like, well, every other men’s mag you might browse through. Desperate to be relevant by being a brochure for irrelevancies.

The same old reliance on list formats and quick reads pervades. Both assumed I’m interested in features about people who have been bitten by sharks, homoerotic sports, scars, cars, wounds and generic doe-eyed crumpet. And not much else.

And the advertisers clearly assume I’d want to buy gaudy, expensive wristwatches. And nothing else. More on this in a second.

I’m not saying wounds are boring. Some are very interesting. That scene in Rambo where he stitches himself up is excellent. But cars are boring. So is generic crumpet.

In one of the various car-related features, GQ had Jeremy Clarkson bashing a small economical saloon from the Pacific Rim with a large lump-hammer. “This car isn’t as good as a Ferrari,” he says, with great sagacity, “so I’m going to hit it for a while!”

I read this thinking wish I could afford a car. Any car. A bike even. Kids in the world are so poor they can’t even afford a bag of polluted air. You just smashed a family car to bits. You were no doubt paid more than the car cost to do that. And you’re what the reader (me?) should aspire to be? A well-heeled, modern-day Gumby.

But back to the adverts…

Accumulating very expensive watches, one for whatever mood you're in. This is what we're supposed to aspire to.

The most bewildering thing about GQ, Esquire is the astonishing number of adverts for wristwatches.

Almost every third page is a glossy close-up of a time-piece (sometimes pictured on a wrist, sometimes in an oyster shell, occasionally draped over a dead sparrow with hat pins in its eyes). Each one of these small clocks falls into the 1 to 2 and 3 thousand quid range.

Dozens and dozens and dozens of them. Page after page.

Each magazine, after a while, begins to feel like a watch catalogue with annoying bits of car and wound interspersed.

How many watches is a modern man meant to own? Are watches to men what shoes are to women? I can’t believe that for a ticking second. Who buys a £2000 watch every time the season moves on? Am I being naïve? Even if you have all the money in the world, surely you’d only need a decadent 2, maximum. Three if you’re a playboy and a part-time police diver.



A visitor‘ left this comment on 5 Dec 05
Dear Sir, I write this to you from my 2 million dollar yacht. I am cutting through the waters just off Belize and my curvy 21 year old squeeze has just gone below deck so that Juan the deck hand can wax her bikini line. This watches thing you have dreamed up!! Do you know what a real gap is? Gap. When I say Gap I am not referring to the high street chain store. No, it’s the gap that forms in a certain part of your brain when you have too much money. You just stop thinking about anything but watches, bitches, yachts and smashing up shitty cars. If you can be excessive (even for one day) I would try it. Free the demons. You may never go back to collecting coupons and wearing second hand clothes. This, I have no doubt, is what your life consists of at the moment. I don’t hate the poor.
A visitor‘ left this comment on 3 Dec 05
You think that is bad… womens mags are crazier, with one page telling you that curves are great, and the next giving you details of the lastest celebrity diet so you can loose pounds by christmas time. Dust anyone? dust?

One response to “Watch This Space – Published: 2 Dec 2005

  1. Pingback: Watch This Space II – Published: 3 Oct 2006 | Urban Crap

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