Anti-intellectual editor in chief of Maxim magazine Keith Blanchard says, "The world of journalism is in the early throes of a real revolution," which translates: Successful journalism now means articles that can be read during Sportscenter commercial breaks. With his magazine, Blanchard has practically invented a new journalistic genre consisting entirely of sexy captions, funny pull quotes, and risible graphics. Proud readers, put down your leather-bound multivolume Proust set long enough to consider that Maxim magazine, the most successful magazine on planet Earth, is read by no less than 11 million men who now have more practical knowledge than you will ever acquire—everything from how to pick up girls at funerals to how to build a miniature flamethrower with a cigarette lighter, a can of Binaca, and two rubber bands. Blanchard (who wants "to know what Sabrina the Teenage Witch looks like when she's getting ready to take a shower—I am, at the end of the day, a guy") spoke at Columbia University two weeks ago against the "informed elite": magazine editors who are "not writing for their readers at all, but to impress other editors" and to win awards. He talked trash about The New Yorker and Vanity Fair ("notorious wastrels of millions upon millions of dollars") and about magazines who see it as "their sacred duty as the informed elite to use their pages to educate and uplift a nation of irrelevant drones." Blanchard's success is simple because his editorial aim is depressingly low: Give readers what readers want. (And, basically, readers want porn.)
The Nightstand has never read Maxim. We've only encountered the magazine at newsstands (occasions that always left us feeling violated and visually assaulted in a fundamental and very Freudian way. Whatever happened to bikini tops that fully enclosed the underside of the boob?). So, in an effort to bridge the gap between our pretentious self and this brave new readership—the misogynistic American Maxim readers who are defining the future of journalism while driving The New Yorker into the ground—the Nightstand open-mindedly ventured to Fremont last week for the local Maxim-sponsored Bud Light Party Maximus. Unfortunately, the venue was so thronged with people (including, we learned later, Mariner Bret Boone), and the line outside so slow-moving and Hugo Boss- smelling, that we turned around and left. To our further horror (we have never ever seen so much crimped hair), we left just in time to see two drunk girls, evidently fed up with long bathroom lines, break away from the party, run down the block, dive behind a hedge, shove their skin tight pink body suits down around their ankles, and urinate on the lawn in front of an office building. Brave new readership, indeed.