Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2002 / 21 Tishrei, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Analyzing Esquire, GQ is not for the squeamish | Try this experiment in magazine deconstruction.

Buy the October issues of GQ and Esquire. GQ's special sports issue features NBA star Kevin Garnett on the cover, showing lots of cleavage. Esquire's not-so-special "Women We Love" issue has Jennifer Aniston on the cover, showing lots of cleavage.

Carefully place both magazines side by side on the kitchen table. You might notice a stinky, death-like smell coming from Esquire. You're on to something, but we'll explain what it is later.

For now, let's flip through both magazines simultaneously.

As we plow past the Armani, Ralph Lauren, Mercedes, Gap, Prada and DKNY ads, it's obvious that both mags are aimed at single, white, city-dwelling men in their early 30s who put too much stock in expensive clothes, cars and watches but are too grown up for Maxim.

GQ's ads are noticeably more upscale. It knows better than to insult its readers with a lowly Saturn ad, as Esquire does. GQ's first readable stuff - short sporty items about Montreal goalie Jose Theodore and Donald Trump's new golf course, etc. - shows up at Page 65.

Esquire's "Man at His Best" offerings begin at Page 55 and go on and on. If the items about expensive cars, booze and beef seem tedious, dull, over-written and annoyingly smarmy, it's because they mostly are. And yes, two cartoons are crude enough for Hustler.

For the next 126 pages - all the way through an unreadable travel story about Senegal, Tom Junod's typically self-indulgent piece on bullies and the ads for sex toys in the back - Esquire stinks.

This stinkiness is nothing new. The once-great magazine has been brain dead for at least a decade. Its "Dubious Achievement Awards" stopped being funny in Reagan's first term, and its annual "Women We Love" idea is not just mined out after 15 years, it's an embarrassment to dirty old men.

When you compare Esquire page-for-page to GQ, it's easy to see how unfunny, uninteresting and forgettable it is. It tries hard to be hip, clever and young but often ends up being tasteless, weird or stupid.

Take, for example, a strange double-page photo of Aniston. She is posed in a nightgown, on her back, legs awkwardly bent back under her, with her eyes staring into the sky. She doesn't look sexy; she looks dead and crumpled, as if she's been dropped from a plane.

Meanwhile, GQ's pages are packed with excellent writing and interesting editorial fare, even though it's 100 percent jockstraps, helmets, pucks and NASCAR.

Guy Lawson's profile of Jarome Iginla, the NHL's only black star, is an excellent read. So is "How to Fix the Sports Pages," the transcript of a conversation with ex-sports writers Alan Richman and Peter Richmond and current New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton, which is loaded with lots of laughs and good ideas about energizing America's dull and predictable newspaper sports sections.

And, speaking of Richmond, his profile of Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner is a textbook example of great magazine writing. It is, sad to say, far better than anything you'll find in the October Esquire, a magazine that once had a monopoly on such excellence.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

09/20/02: CEOs: The rise and fall of American heroes
09/13/02: Skeptics remind U.S. to calm down
09/10/02: 'A failure to recognize a failure': 15 minutes with ... Bill Gertz
09/06/02: Rating the 9-11 mags
08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
08/28/02: Baseball, broken, can be fixed: 15 minutes with George Will
08/16/02: 9-11 overload has already begun
08/13/02: Tell us what you really think, Ann Coulter
08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
08/02/02: It's not the humidity, it's the (media) heat wave; the death of American cities
07/12/02: Colombia's drug lords are all business
07/09/02: If capitalism is 'soulless' then show me something better: 10 minutes with Alan Reynolds
06/25/02: Origins of a scandal: 10 minutes with Michael Rose
06/21/02: 9/11 report unearths good, bad and ugly
06/18/02: The FBI is rebounding 10 Minutes with Ronald Kessler
06/14/02: U.S. News opens closet of Secret Service
06/11/02: 10 minutes with William Lind: Can America survive in this 'fourth-generation' world?
06/07/02: America, warts and all
05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald