Monday, December 17, 2007

"At-trash-ion" - the pull of supermarket rags

As anybody who knows me might know, I’m a voracious reader. I’m usually willing to try mostly any genre or any author, especially if it’s for the first time. I’d like to say that I’m a thoroughbred intellectual when it comes to my reading matter… but I’d be lying if I said that. And, like George Washington before me, I cannot tell a lie. What I can say is that what I read is directly related to what is available to read. If it’s a classic novel, then I’m as intellectually literary (or literarily intellectual, take your pick) as anybody could wish for. If I’m stuck anywhere bookless (a fairly unusual state of affairs), then I read whatever is at hand. If it’s a trashy magazine, so be it. If there’s not even a trashy magazine handy, then I read whatever’s available – a poster, old grocery lists (found in my bag), the statutory warning on a discarded cigarette pack, someone else’s newspaper, the bus timetable, leaflet handouts, basically any scrap of paper that has any writing on it. If I'm really pushed, I will even read a self-help book by a self-help guru. That’s how desperate a reader I can be.

However, I have a confession to make… trashy magazines are strangely compelling. When I was younger I went through a phase when I read all the film and women’s magazines going at the time (in India)… Star Dust, Filmfare, Star & Style, G magazine, even Women’s Era - although I hated every story and article in every issue of that particular magazine. (To think there was a time when I actually believed everything written by Devyani Chaubal about the film stars… but that’s neither here nor there - although if anyone knows what’s happened to that nasty old woman, please do let me know.)

The thing is, when I grew up a bit more and acquired some sophistication (so I believed), I shunned those magazines like they delivered the plague rather than unsubstantiated gossip every month. Trashy magazines were for people who declared “Oh I cant read a book, they’re so boring, I only read magazines”. I felt intellectually and morally superior at having grown up and moved on to classics and literature. I don’t mean that I wouldn’t have read those same magazines in a book emergency - but I wouldn’t have actively gone out and bought one of them. And I certainly wouldn’t have admitted to reading them! Little did I imagine then that those trashy magazines would make a triumphant comeback into my life a few years down the line…

Thaaat’s right. I read all of the supermarket rags now, and I'm only moderately ashamed of admitting it. I read the “true” confessions and “shocking” real life stories with catchy headlines like “My husband ran off with my mother”, “How I spent £5 million and became bankrupt”, “I spent £30,000 on surgery to look like Posh Spice”, “My gambling habit lost me my house, husband and children but I’m still going to Vegas”. I’m au courant with all the excitingly trashy behaviour exhibited by the Great Unwashed and recorded in painstaking reams of print in dozens of colourful magazines. So it’s not my finest hour, intellectually speaking. So what if there's a sea of good books to read and I choose the reandom rubbish that is washed up on shore? At least now I know what the ladies in my office are talking about. Y’want to know what Kerry Katona said about Katie Price in her latest column? Ask me.


ggop said...

Yay - I'm glad you hated Women's Era stories too. Weren't they written by male chauvinist pigs?!

Tabloids are fun to read while working out.

CW said...

I was a 'voracious' reader of the 'Personal problems', 'Inlaws-outlaws', 'How I met my husband' sections! I drew the limit at 'Body problems' or was it Know your body? (only coz as a rather unaware 9-14 yr old I neither understood the problems nor the solutions!)
Who are Kerry & Katie btw???

brinda said...

you didn't enjoy women's era? really? i LOVE that mag :-) There's also something called eve's touch -- a chennai version of WE... not half as good, tho. oh, and isnt that devyani person long dead?

Shyam said...

ggop: Quite likely!

CW: Kerry and Katie? Just celebrities known for their very large, surgically enhanced twin assets :)

Brin: Havent heard of Eve's Touch, but is it the sort of mag that tells women to talk softly to their husbands, never raise their voice or argue? :) Women's Era was FULL of such "advice"

Swarna said...

have you heard of a sleazy pop magazine called Jetset in the 80s. Will almost always be dustily hanging off the thread near plantains and glass jars of biscuits in potti kadais in good old Madras. my dad almost always gave" if looks could kill" look when i demanded one of those...just to have a poster of WHAM or Madonna and be one up in class!!

Su said...

@ Brinda : Eves Touch is NOT a Chennai based version of Women's Era. Maybe if you actually bothered to pick up a couple of magazines and read, it may make more sense for you than to make a hasty comment like that.

For the past 15 years, Eves Touch has been featuring women achievers from South India simply because magazines like Femina etc never really bothered to look down south until now. The magazine steers away from fashion, movies and politics.