I have been rereading Making Sense of Men’s Magazines co-authored by Peter Jackson, Nick Stevenson and Kate Brooks, and I am typing up some notes here. (Here is proper review of the book.) I have actually had the book since 2003, but at first glance and second thought it didn’t really seem that useful to me. However, I am now going to use it in my dissertation to construct my enabling ‘straw-person’ argument regarding what Jackson, et al. term “media sociology”.
The “men’s magazines” in question are so-called ‘lifestyle magazines’ such as FHM, Loaded, and Maxim. As the title of the book implies they carried out focus groups with everyday readers of the magazines to understand the ways they made ‘sense’ (or ‘meanings’) of the magazines. They also interviewed some of the editorial staff associated wiht the magazines and did ‘close readings’ of the magazine texts. There are a number of convergences with my project looking at the role of magazines in the cultural industry of contemporary modified-car culture in Australia. There are also a number of sharp divergences. The biggest single problem with the book is that they somehow believe by asking what ‘men’ think of the ‘men’s magazines’ that they are not being “morally judgemental”, which they believe is a good thing (11-12). To find out what is going on with your car, you go to a mechanic. To find out what is going on with the media, you go to a media researcher. The media researcher may look at the media machinic assemblage (market + media + externalities +…), just like the mechanic looks at the car, but the mechanic does not (normally) ask the car wghat is functioning and how it is functioning, because although the car may have a very nifty in-built computer that logs all errors and so on, that car has not done a trade in mechnics or spent years gaining experiecne to be able tofigure out how it functions itself!! Why do media researchers feel inclined to believe asking parts of the machine how the machine operates is going to have any other outcome?
All in all I find their work troubling. Here it is in point form:
1) They make a distinction between these ‘new’ so-called “general interest” men’s magazines and the “interest-based” magazines in the older or traditional men’s magazine market. They seemingly base this distinction on a single article from Campaign, 29 August 1986. [Not sure what Campaign is??? Anyone??] They write:
Little more than a decade ago it could be confidently asserted that ‘men don’t buy magazines’, apart from pornography or special interest magazines on sports, photography or motoring. (pg 2)Â
I find this distinction problematic. Pornography is special interest(!) and ‘general interest’ is ‘general interest’ in name only, and the discursive construction of ‘general interest’ as some sort of universalising category applicable to ‘masculinity’ in general is very hard to accept. Why is the pursuit of a ‘new lad’ identity not considered a special interest like motor cars, sport, or fishing? There is something of a commercial and cultural industry coup in the transformation of the constitution of identity (‘life’) into an explicit and universalising consumerist project. Do all men buy so-called men’s magazines? No, they do not. The “men’s magazines” are part of an assemblage organised around the interests of the masculine consumer market within the cultural industries. This ‘masculine consumer assemblage’ is perhaps more explicit in its ‘special interest’, that is the ‘new man’ or ‘new lad’ (for the British) or ‘new bloke’ (for the Australians) than some of the other interest-based magazines. There is no way such magazines could ever be accused of trying to sell their magazines to anyone else besides their masculine consumer target market.
2) There is an affective dimension to the magazines that the researchers only half note. Here I am referring to the ‘joke’ of ironic boorish masculinity or, rather, the general ‘tone’ of the magazines. They write:
Through a close reading of a selection of stories in FHM, XL and Maxim, we suggest that the adoption of an ironic mode of cultural commentary serves to subvert political critique, with those who object to the predominant (sexually objectified) ways of representing women easily dismissed as missing the point, much as feminists have previously been described as ‘humousless’.
Throughout the book, in fact, we take a sceptical approach to the alleged irony of magazines such as Loaded, arguing that their tone of ‘knowing’ sexism may serve as a way of deflecting potential criticicsm. […] The tone of magazines such as Loaded can therefore be thought of more critically as a means of handling the contradictions of contemporary gender relatins where older-style patriachal relations are crumbling but where men may still strive to maintain conventional poer relations between the sexes. (pg 20)
I can not find my copy of Difference and Repititon (from the “Introduction”) at the moment and it is getting late, so I shall quote from here:
Deleuze calls irony â€œascending towards the principlesâ€ of moral law, which means â€œchallenging the law as secondary,â€ challenging its authenticity, protesting its illegitimacy and usurping of an â€œoriginal power.â€ He contrasts this with humor, â€œdescending towards the consequences,â€ where one â€œfalsely submitsâ€ to the law, mocks it, and thereby is able to â€œtaste pleasures it was supposed to forbid.â€
There are various measures of humour and irony within a given situation or happening. There isn’t much more I can say about that… however, quite simply, a joke may be used to differenciate a group so it maintains its consistency. A particular affective tone operates much the same way. The researchers didn’t get it, because they simply didn’t get it. Instead of looking to critique the deployment of alleged irony (their argument I somewhat agree with), look at what the tone of the magazines does within the assemblage. What does it do?
Paradoxically, like any joke, if you need to ask, then you have already missed it, the humor gets sucked out of the situation! It is the immediate surprise and laughter (supressed or otherwise), shame (for finding it funny, ‘for men who should know better’ (tagline for Loaded at one stage I believe)). It is in the affective dimension of the magazine that the ‘men’ who read it are enabled to become-together, that is, to paraphrase Massumi, the magazines are the transmission of the event and its consumption triggers a particular masculine consumer attunement. The ‘laughter’ of the masculine consumer is differentially repeated in various ways at various times in various places by various readers. Angela McRobbie actually made a very similar point on teenage girls/women and their magazine reading habits as noted by the current researchers: “McRobbie (1991) a negative view of the internal logic of the problem page (characterised by unsisterly individualism) with a more positive assessment of its external logic (how the magazines are read and giggled over collectively)” (ital. added, pg 7).
3) Instead of looking at how magazines fit into broader consumption habits and practices in this masculine consumer assemblage and the affective dimension (largely based on a reactionary ‘ironic’ masculinity) around which it is organised, the researchers bring out the old ‘media sociology’ text book and whack us over the head with some more media-hegemony theory work. Forget that stuff. Forget it!!! The readers are not ‘dupes’, they WANT TO READ THE MAGAZINES!! Why? Because they find them interesting.
If the magazines are part of the ‘media machinic assemblage’, then that means all the editors and especially the readers are also cogs in this machine. The editors or the editorial content does not have to (laughably) transmit ideology or the beliefs of the ruling classes through their work for the assemblage to function!!! They could be doing the exact opposite!!! It doesn’t matter. (Resistance is futile, or, at least, the Borg become assimilated into the Star Trek machinic assemblage.) All that matters is that the consistency of the assemblage is maintained, which therefore maintains the cultural economy which by and large constitute the ‘market‘ (from the cultural economy point of view) or the ‘scene‘ (for the individual participant’s point of view). ‘Market’ and ‘scene’ are two not exact opposites across the producer/circulater-consumer divide.
For example, readers only have to find the humour funny to feel like they belong to and are part of the assemblage, therefore editors need to write funny editorial content. This is terribly simplified and it actually has more to do with the distribution and contraction of differences across the intensive social field. Or, in other words, what the magazine says is important, the reader actually finds interesting. Or, the reader has some level (intensity) of interest and the magazine works towards that interest. It is a symbiotic machinic relation: important/interesting. (The flip side of this you find on various ‘political’ blogs who only blog about that which is ‘important’ in the hope that they will be ‘interesting’.)
4) To tie it back into the first point about special interests. What is the special interest of the masculine consumer? To belong to certain event spaces in certain ways, at work, home, school, sport field/stand, pub, and so on. The materiality of identity has a gatekeeper function. You look like you belong. Money is a good signifier of belonging anywhere. The magazines select (literally, through advertising and advertainment features) commodified signifers of certain event spaces, organise these selections in the pages of the magazine, territorialise these organisations with the potentialities (for belonging) of ‘new man’ or ‘new lad’ affectivities through the affective content of the magazines’ affective discourse (or tone), and then envelop these territories with an abstract machine of the universal category of ‘man’.
The questions I would ask are: Why does this particular media and assemblage emerge at this particular (con)juncture? What does it do? What else does it need to function with (or what are the other components and dimensions of the princplie assemblage of which it is part)? Why do ‘men’ need to believe/feel like they are ‘consuming-living’ a commodified lifestyle in such a way that enables them to belong with other (similarly consuming-living) ‘men’?
I’ve being trying to track down a “behind the scenes” book from an ex-editor of lad magazines who I heard interviewed on 702 some time ago. Can’t remember the guys name but I remember the gist of the interview.
Basically he said that it really didn’t matter about the journalistic/ illustrative content of men’s magazines, it was merely an advertising distribution device to a target market. Any articles, picture spreads etc were merely the bait to get the punter to read the advertising.
There’s an article from the Age which sort of goes into this.
US men rally to Brit-styl laddism
“The peculiar differences in US and British publishing may have left the British well positioned to kidnap readers. Publishing in Britain is a newsstand enterprise, with single-copy readers making up almost 90 per cent of the readership. It is a small, competitive market in which magazines that do not acquire a following soon disappear. US magazines are designed more to assemble a readership gradually – mostly through subscriptions – which is then offered to advertisers.
The Americans were blinded by their own assumptions. There was a widely held belief in publishing in 1997, when Maxim burst on to the newsstands, that advertisers would not warm to an editorial formula veering from bawdy to beery. Wrong again. GQ, published by Conde Nast, has the most ad pages in the men’s group, but Maxim has far more revenue. Stuff and FHM are experiencing explosive growth in ad pages.
“When these magazines launched, they were way over the edge in terms of what is acceptable content, and people thought that Wal-Mart and Chrysler would never buy in,” said Mike Lafavore, founding editor of Men’s Health, the rare US men’s magazine using a single theme, fitness, to reach a mass readership. “But they move a lot of copies through Wal-Mart, and I just noticed that Chrysler, which is thought of as a very conservative advertiser, was in Maxim.”
Norman Pearlstine, editor-in-chief of Time Inc, acknowledged that the opportunity was missed by his company and others.
“I think that for a long time, the conventional wisdom was that Time Inc would never do a magazine like Maxim because we didn’t think the advertising would be there,” he said. “There was just a perception that young men didn’t read and didn’t spend money, and it turns out that they do both.”
Mark Golin, a former editor of Maxim on loan to Time Inc from AOL, is working on the possibility of a magazine for grown-up males that uses lad motifs.”
So I suppose in the case of Street Machine, it features articles about cars to guys who are out to build cars using parts sourced from advertisers in the magazines. A feedback loop of sorts.
I wish I still had my copies of Street Machine No 1,2,3,4 to give you but I had to pawn it during my impoverished uni days!
Now there’s an interesting note here. For the first issue of Street Machine, there was a largely unknown guy calledPhil Scott as editor. He’s since gone on to be editor of Drive at the SMH, then in charge of all Herlad sections.
He was then poached by ACP and then ran the lad magazines.
Another aticle from B & T here
hi Glen – long time off the blog trail, good to see you still going hard at it :). Your piece summed up a lot of the differences in orientation toward CS and philosophy so I’ll give a brief response from the “strawperson” side of the fence.
Firstly, as an aside, I’m pretty sure the “Campaign” being quoted is the british ad magazine and not the Australian gay and lesbian glossy 🙂
“Why do media researchers feel inclined to believe asking parts of the machine how the machine operates is going to have any other outcome?”
This is the crux of the issue: people, both researchers and theorists, are not machines. Their (and your!) participation in various kinds of “machinic assemblages” is constrained by their subjective experience. Two methodological issues follow:
1) There is no place from where the machine can be described that is not also determined by one’s own subjective constraints, the goal is to try and surface these. A good place to start that comparative work is talking to people who have a different but similar relationship to the field (e.g. other people who read the magazine). Instead, you’re asking us to put faith in you “as a media researcher with training” to make sense of what’s going on. Sorry, I don’t trust you or your training.
The analogy between a mechanic and a researcher falls down at this point: your knowledge of “the media machine” is never seriously tested, in the way that a car tests a mechanic’s knowledge. The car more or less works or doesn’t. A researcher can create all kinds of descriptions of how the media machine works where basic assumptions are not challenged. I think a larger part of the value of the empirical/ethnographic encounter is simply to test the operating assumptions of the researcher. For example, I find formalist machine-talk useless for the kind of work that I do. You foreground it as an important way of understanding what’s going on. How do we talk across this gap? My response would be that the subjective experience of reading the magazine among non-media researchers would highlight these points of tension between us more clearly.
2) Even if you could describe the “machine”, the correspondences with the political field would be problematic because of Gramsci’s point about articulation. If you want to change the field of men’s magazine reception (do you?) then you set up your own affective relations with the recipients of that knowledge. So when you say “Why do ‘men’ need to believe/feel like they are ‘consuming-living’ a commodified lifestyle in such a way that enables them to belong with other (similarly consuming-living) ‘men’?” I think most men would say, “Fuck off”. Part of the motivaton for politicised media research is to find descriptions that can find some resonance in broader parts of “culture”. The question you ask here is structured around your theoretical premises about capitalism and consumption. I’m not saying people aren’t making identifications through the commodity-form, but to phrase the question in that way inevitably puts you in a situation where you believe that you know how it works and they don’t, e.g. vanguardism. And we saw where that ended up in the 60s.
A couple of last points:
* Of course people want to read the magazines because they find them interesting. I think this is assumed (no-one is forcing people to read it) and thereby not surfaced. But so what? I don’t see how a description of this interest is useful.
* You may have trouble with the descriptor “general interest”, but the brute reality is that if you were an advertiser you couldn’t reach men who were not interested-enough in a particular sport or field to buy a magazine about it. (You don’t buy a fishing magazine to read passing time on the bus, you buy it because you’re into fishing). Now, with these mags, you can, and it has triggered an enormous investment into male advertising, and has also provided a place for the dissemination of broad cultural practices that never used to exist (dating, sex, clothes, relationships, etc.). I think the researchers here are not trying to quibble with the definitions. They are taking the field as one that people who work in publishing say exists, and go with that. Again, a very different approach than trying to make categories formally/internally coherent. Their definition has billions of dollars behind it. Your questioning of the distinction doesn’t.
I can’t stick up for the book because I haven’t read it. It sounds like it is a bit lame and anti-theoretical in parts. The issues I raise here in response to your points don’t come from that but from a longer tradition of sociologically-influenced approaches to media that I think you would be well-advised to engage with if you want to make the general arguments you’re making. One of the annoying things about cultural studies is that it is prone to making general staements from limited samples. If you take on the arguments of the book as representative of the field I think you’ll be left with a relatively weak argument.
My suggestion, if you’re looking at the methodological issues, would be to go back to the longer tension between empirical and critical research (Lazarsfeld is great I think among the old stuff), particularly noting how the process of research is positioned institutionally. Then, on the sociological tip, the arguments of Paul Willis, Stuart Hall (esp. in Culture, Media, Language intro), Janet Wolff, McRobbie, even the US scholars like Avery Gordon. [Of course, if you were MCGregg you could go back to the british masters as well, but that stuff doesn’t do it for me]. My point is simply that the sociological imagination in cultural studies has a long and varied trajectory, one that it was important for me to follow through its twists and turns, and one I’m annoyed at seeing mischaracterised by people I know!
Hi Danny and Johnno!
Thankyou both for long and interesting replies. Thankyou for the articles, Johnno! I already had the one on motoring titles from the industry rag, but not the other two on men’s magazines. The book talks about all the shifts and changes of editorial staff between magazines and a very similar thing happens with the journos at ACP and elsewhere. It is interesting to trace where various editorial staff go. You have to make a sharp distinction between editorial staff (mostly permanent staff of the magazines and publishing houses) and the casual or freelancers (like me!!) who do one or two or more articles per issue. See the latest 2DMax magazine for two of my articles. One on an Orange BA GT Falcon and one on a silver Supra. I did the cover car the issue before (a blue, white-flamed minitruck from QLD).
“This is the crux of the issue: people, both researchers and theorists, are not machines. Their (and your!) participation in various kinds of “machinic assemblages” is constrained by their subjective experience.”
Danny I agree with you 100%!!! They are not machines! The ‘machines’ are both much larger and much smaller than individual readers; although sometimes they are the same size;). Another way to phrase this point is that magazines are never read or produced in isolation and sit alongside a multitplicity of other practices and connections either in the live’s of the readers or the publishers. I think you have misunderstood me if you think ‘subjective experience’ is not part of what I am talking about, I am not sure what you mean by ‘subjective eperience’ but see below regarding my discussion of affect which is pre-personal, but experienced as highly subjective, in fact, I would argue experienced ‘as’ the subject! What I am interested in is asking what do these subjective experiences _do_? I do not mean on an individual scale but the collectivities of subjective experiences that go towards producing the ‘scene’ of modified-car culture (or ‘new lad’ culture). There is a mass culture, albeit it exists on a very different scale than the old Frankfurt School arguements forwarded. I have discussed some of this in the context of the automotive cultural industry in my article on the emergence of muscle cars in the 1960s and the first Pontiac GTO compared to the failure of the new GTO (Holden Monaro).
Maybe the mechanic analogy is wrong, I was thinking about it last night trying to go to sleep and I thought of that terrible TV program “House” about the doctor who has to figure out what is wrong with patients. This particular imaginary clinical setting is probably much closer to what I am talking about. ‘House’ or his sidekicks not only has to turn the gaze of the medical apparatus onto the ‘patient’ but look into the patient’s life (home, work, play, etc) to figure out what is wrong. Sometimes it is some sort of environmental bug, that is, the event of ‘sickness’ does not exist purely within the human and straddles the ‘environment’, too.
“The car more or less works or doesn’t. A researcher can create all kinds of descriptions of how the media machine works where basic assumptions are not challenged. I think a larger part of the value of the empirical/ethnographic encounter is simply to test the operating assumptions of the researcher.”
The not-workingness in the case of cars or (biological) people when they are not functioning properly is obvious. Cars are meant to function in a certain way and broadly speaking so is the biological part of a human. Again I agree 100% with you in the sense of the researcher’s assumptions about the functioning of the broader media machinic assemblage not being tested if research into the media component is not set alongside other dimensions of the assemblage!! By ‘broader’ I mean not in the one-to-one ‘tracing’ of a machine onto a magazine or reader, but, in the case of modified-car culture, the machinic assemblage being conceived of at the very minimum as the circuit produced in the cultural industry between: (massified) readership, the fragmented magazine market (ie all the magazines in a particular assemblage), the businesses and other commercial interests that advertise in the magazines (‘speed shops’, workshops, mailorder businesses, internet businesses, ‘mobile phone pr0n’, etc), the other media objects consumed and/or participated in (ie online forums, film, tv series, computer games), and ‘real world’ practices (hanging out in carparks, cruising, drag racing, drifting). The magazine is successful when it ‘maps’ (not ‘traces’) the desires and beliefs of the participants of a given scene and transforms them into the readership. (as a sidenote, yes, I have done fieldwork for my dissertation!!! In car parks, workshops, online forums, drag strips, etc in fact, my dissertation started off as an ethnographic project!) The authors of this volume on men’s magazines take something of a Birmingham School line about texts and critical readings. I would’ve thought that they could’ve taken it to the next level and thought of ‘lad culture’ as a _subculture_ in the Birmingham School sense, rather than the magazines as some stand alone media text. When you start thinking about ‘lad’ culture as more of a subculture, albeit much more difuse than the 1950s-1980s versions, with the magazines as part of that subcultural industry, then you get much closer to where I am coming from. I rethink that concept of subculture in my dissertation as being organised around affective relations rather than ideological meanings.
The ‘functioning’ I am interested in is the reproduction of enthusiasm. There is a difference between ‘interest’ as an affect, and ‘interesting’ as a category describing media content. I would describe media that correlates with the ‘interest’ affect as ‘mattering’ rather than interesting. Maybe it is semantics, not sure what you meant by interesting, but I think ‘mattering’ has a more forceful purpose than ‘interesting’. Admittedly, the case for the affective basis of enthusiasm is much stronger and more obvious in modified-car culture than it is in ‘lad’ culture. I am not even sure what you would call the affective dimension of ‘lad’ culture?? Maybe ‘enthusiasm’ also fits? Anyway, the role of the magazines (all of them across the entire assemblage) is 1) to work to reproduce the conditions that enable an enthusiasm to exist (ie as a social institution in relation to the State and monolithic institutions like car manufacturers, my first example of this is the “V8s till 98” campaign of 1984 run by Street Machine and other media outlets) and 2) the modulation of enthusiasm in particular ways for the purposes of reproducing the enthusiasm and directing the circuits of capital within the cultural economy to particular sponsors/advertisors (my first example of this is Street Machine and furor surrounding the transformation of the Street Machine Nationals into the Summernats in 1987), that is, at the very minimum, what Johnno identifies as the feedback loop between enthusiasts and workshops who advertise in magazines.
Enthusiasm here is conceived of as an ‘affective complex’. I am drawing on a lot of affect theory to think about this. At the minimum it demands a level of ‘interest’, which is part of Sylvan Tompkins affect of ‘interest-excitement’. Beyond this is an attunement regarding the differences that define the intensive field of the ‘scene’. For example, Ford vs Holden matters for street machiners, this difference largely defines a street machiner. They don’t have to follow ford or holden, theyu don’t even need to have a ford or a holden (they could have a chrysler), but the _difference_ has to matter. Similarly in the ‘import cultures’ ford vs holden also matters not because of the difference between ford and holden, but because of their similarities and the difference between ford-vs-holden and the objects of the enthusiasm that populate import culture (largely Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, etc). Affective relationships cannot be sustained at high intensity over too long a period, yet modified-car culture largely still demands months if not years of commitment from enthusiasts. The role of the magazines is to, in part, modulate this enthusiasm, ie the rhythm of excitement and interest, through coverage of shows, new cars, new parts, and other aspects of the culture that _matter_. Interest-excitement on its own is not enough to account for the range of situations demanded of an enthusiast; an affective complex also involves sadness, joy, anxiety, and so on. Having the life-skills and experience of being able to react affectively in certain ways is part of an enthusiasm.
In the case of belonging to the machinic assemblage of ‘lad’ culture, I would argue it is the ‘joke’ of the culture or some version of it that enables one to belong to the culture. Either you get the joke on a ‘gut level’ and you belong or you try to get it on some cerebral level and you do not. How do you measure this? Well, you can’t, not really. That is why I have been thinking about readership of magazines being more like a ‘crowd’ than the traditional conception of a reader of a text. Being in a crowd, in the ‘field’, is a different experience than reading about the crowd and the event of which they were part. Treating the readership of a magazine as the commodified flipside of a ‘scene’ (btw, I am using ‘scene’ in the way developed by Geof Stahl) and as a distributed ‘crowd’ casts the act of ‘reading’ in a different light. Attempting to quantify or even qualify the affective dimension of anything is very difficult. Even Sylvan Tomkins’s work is full of lists like, “if so-an-so happens it might be this, ot this, or this, or this.” There is no attempt in the book (on men’s magazines) to even address this issue of not getting the joke. They treat the joke as an ideological trick to enable the reproduction of particular geneder relations. Indeed, one level, it probably is!! However, they need to realise that “getting the joke” is a gatekeeper function for belonging and “becoming-together” of sharing in the ‘joke’ that is ‘lad’ culture.
“They are taking the field as one that people who work in publishing say exists, and go with that. Again, a very different approach than trying to make categories formally/internally coherent. Their definition has billions of dollars behind it. Your questioning of the distinction doesn’t.”
Danny!!!! Billions of dollars doesn’t make one right! Working in publishing is still part of the machinic assemblage of ‘lad’ culture or modified-car culture. Can’t you see the (Foucaultian) issue regarding the production of lifestyles as the commodification of life, or, in Lefebvre’s words, the production of a particular ‘everyday life’? Instead of a range of views being circulated around a few core practices or objects, there is a few core views (and affective dispositions) that are stretched over everything! I don’t see any difference between the ‘special interest’ project of a car or fishing expedition compared to the project of one’s appearance when hanging out in a night club if all three are derived from reading magazines, ie the products of the cultural industry that services the culture surrounding each of the activites. The sheer fact that there is millions if not billions of dollars behind these magazines means that they are very unlikely to actually say something like, “Yes, the young men who buy the magazines are a select group within late capitalism who constitute a particular subculture whereby each of their lives is largely detrmined by what the subcultural media says is cool or interesting and their habitus is largely determined by the boorish, reactionary masculinity that the subcultural media also champions and circulates.” They don’t have to think it is cool, only that it matters to have an opinion about whether it is cool or not, ie that it matters. What would be the function of saying that this very specific interest is actually general interest? I have never seen figures about what percentage of the target market population actually buys these magazines, ie how much of the actual ‘scene’ do they turn into a ‘market’ and actually sell magazines to?. Those sorts of figures never circulate in public (or loosely defined freelance workers in the cultural industries;).
oh, johnno, i recently had a success (on the weekend) where I managed to buy a collection of street machine magazines. It has _all_ the early ones up until late-1989 and quite few throughout the 1990s. I have hundreds of magazines already, but getting all the early street machines (i am concerned with the period between the start 1981 through to the first few summernats 1989 1990) will make me happy.
after I am done doing the phd I am going to donate some the more collectable magazines to the national library, espcially the “Australian Van Wheels” as there are no publically held copies of this magazine in the whole of Australia. Which means doing research on them totally sux!
oh, danny, more:
“So when you say “Why do ‘men’ need to believe/feel like they are ‘consuming-living’ a commodified lifestyle in such a way that enables them to belong with other (similarly consuming-living) ‘men’?” I think most men would say, “Fuck off”. Part of the motivaton for politicised media research is to find descriptions that can find some resonance in broader parts of “culture”. The question you ask here is structured around your theoretical premises about capitalism and consumption. I’m not saying people aren’t making identifications through the commodity-form, but to phrase the question in that way inevitably puts you in a situation where you believe that you know how it works and they don’t, e.g. vanguardism. And we saw where that ended up in the 60s.”
Indeed, which is why when I write for such men in such magazines I do not use such language/terminology/ideas!!!
The really tricky thing that I am doing is using capitalism itself to defend my position. What ‘works and what doesn’t’ as defined in the cultural industries is what makes money and what doesn’t. Street Machine still exists because it makes money, people buy it, and people go to advertisers in the magazine. I take these three aspects of the cultural industries as my main assumptions I am making for my dissertation. It has nothing to do with ‘identity’. I don’t care about ‘identity’! ‘Identity’ is a conceptual construct to understand power relations between a monolithic social institution and a given population. The state, the family, the market, the mode of production, etc. Or, to put it another way, are you a Ford man or a Holden man? Who cares? “Who cares?” is exactly the question that is important along with why should they care, ie why should it matter in terms of the functioning of the assemblage if you are a Ford Man or a Holden man or a ‘man’ at all.
I really hope that “campaign” they reference is the gay men’s glossy. Only one I could think of!
I think the book Johnno is looking for might be Sex and Money by Mark Dapin. It is a cracking good read.
What about mens magazines?
well, anon, a bit like my car magazines, and just like hetero pr0n, I think that looks pretty special interest, no?
Mel, thanks for the link…. yes that was it.
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