Sunday, 19 October 2014

Inside the Great Magazines: Episode 2

Episode 2

Igniting Social Change

In the later half of the twentieth century there was a lot more social upheaval. 
Magazines where at the forefront of these movements. 
Dramatic changes happened. 

Helen Gurley Brown the founder of Cosmopolitan magazine

the magazine was controversial at the time, now it can be found all over the world, and is one of the most successful women's magazine. At the forefront of the sexual revolution of the 60s/70s.


The first magazine to represent black african/americans, about hope and positivity, the impact is undeniable, and the editor reflected the world as he wanted it to be through his magazine, i.e. equal rights for all races. 

It began in Chicago, in Johnson Publication House, obtained by asking a white friend to pose as the owner to buy the space, he (Johnson) posed as a janitor, as no-one would sell to a black person. Shows the segregation in the society at the time and the desperate need Johnson felt to change the status quo. 

Before Ebony was created there was an almost complete white-out in the press. And this is why he created his own digest, inspired by the photographs in LIFE. And his belief in himself instilled by his mother who told him he could do anything he wanted and believed that he would.

Before the incidents of Rosa Parks on the bus and the civil rights movements Ebony had only portrayed positive light-hearted pieces that would not upset the advertisers. 

Nat King Cole rang Johnson and urged him to cover what was happening in the movement, at this point Johnson realised his responsibility to write about what was happening and who others, he realised his influence of his magazine. 

As they where covering this, Martin Luther King was assassinated. 

Created in the 1950's, by Hugh Hefner  

Again the forefront of the sexual revolution, from the male perspective, it represented mens ideals, and was created by Hugh Hefner whom has expressed he did this as a result of a repressed childhood. In his late teens he was sent to the army, in which he drew cartoons to entertain the men, he found the most popular where the caricatures of glamorous women. He tapped into this and went with a rogue energy spirit. 

Marilyn Monroe graced the first magazine cover and was one of the first nude models in the magazine. Which was shocking for the time, but as issues sold it became more and more acceptable. Hugh Hefner also created the idea of the 'centrefold' model. 

By the 1960's 1 in 4 men bought Playboy magazine, and felt the need to be a part of the Playboy club, all the while Hugh Hefner built the Playboy empire, amongst the first was the Playboy club, restaurant/ bar. 

He labelled the magazine as a 'gentlemen's magazine' 

So there was Playboy for men, and Cosmopolitan for women. 

Helen Gurley Brown was swayed by her husband to create the magazine after she wrote the book, Sex and the Single Girl. 

She used the book as a basis, and credits her husband for writing all of the magazines cover blurbs. 

Rolling Stone

John Wenner the co-founder of the magazine was spurred to create this magazine out of his feelings of not belonging, from his parents divorce where he says he felt like they where arguing about who would be left with him not who wanted him. 

There was no magazine that covered the music of the time, which had become a huge part of counter-culture, the magazine also covered politics and had an anti-authority view. And these type of figures co-created the magazine alongside Wenner. Among this team was Hunter S Thomson, considered the most influential writer at the time. 

In the 1980s Annie Leibovitz was sent to photograph John Lennon for a piece in the magazine, he specified Yoko Ono had to be in the photographs too. 

The next day John Lennon was shot dead, and the magazine created a whole issue in his memory and the photograph the he had said optimised himself and Ono's relationship was the front cover of the special issue. 

Although the times had seen huge changes through the Civil Rights movements and the Peace movements, women had not yet seen any changes in their own rights. 

Ms Magazine

created by Gloria Steinem, the granddaughter of a suffragette 
previously worked for Show magazine and attended an event at the Playboy club, found herself horrified by the conditions of the women working there who where being portrayed as 'liberated'. She wrote an expose on the Playboy club and the women/ girls working there and this was the start of her feelings of responsibility to womens rights. 

She sought out gatherings about womens rights, one of which was a controversial meeting about abortion (a hugely controversial topic as it was illegal at the time, early 60's) and spoke to women about their procedures they admitted to having done illegally, they felt ashamed and embarrassed and she felt for these women, and they un-safety of having an illegal abortion was at the front of her and many others minds.

And so Ms Magazine was created, on the first front cover graced an illustration of a woman depicted like the god Vishnu, with many arms and many jobs, also a baby and the woman was crying. 

The content covered new articles and new issues women where concerned about, including a petition to legalise abortion. (Again very controversial)

Its criticism of the sexual revolution started a war on the news stands. 

Ms Magazine had the feminist view
Playboy had the male view 
and Cosmopolitan was the same but female view of Playboy

Steinem declared that Playboy was making womens bodies into products, and began women against pornography, and stated that Playboy had created the blueprint of the oppression of women in the days society.

This had big implications for Hugh Hefner and he was seen as the bad guy. 

Steinem also said that Helen Gurley Brown had created Cosmopolitan in the objective to only show gorgeous women as the attractive ones that men wanted and again fed into this idea similar to Playboy. 

Gurley Brown reacted by saying that this was completely untrue and she herself was for womens rights and this is why she had created the magazine in the first place, to liberate women. 

Steinem said women had no say in the sexual revolution.

The sexual revolution happened through magazines, words and images.

Now/ currently there are few revolutionary magazines left. 

The Advocate 

Campaigned for the rights of its readers. Focussed on gay/lesbian rights again a very controversial issue at the time, where both where persecuted by the Church and the state. 
It wanted to affect social change.

All of these magazines captured the hearts and minds of their readers, they felt they had a duty to express and change the issues in society 

Magazines have been corprotised, and revolutionaries are a dying breed, making money is at the fore-front of all magazines, and celebrity culture and the internet are two of the largest threats.

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