Friday, February 27, 2009

File Under 'People Are Shit': Chat Magazine

It’s not often that queuing in Sainsbury's and hangings at Tyburn come together in my head, but that’s exactly what happened to me the other day. While waiting to pay for some banal everyday items, I stood behind a woman who had Chat magazine in her basket.

‘Chat’ sounds like a pretty harmless publication aimed at elderly ladies who also dig the People’s Friend. However, when I looked closer I saw that Chat’s strapline is ‘Life! Death! Prizes!’ (I haven’t added the exclamation marks, Chat magazine really is screaming those words at you). It’s a novel variation on the classic ‘life, death, taxes’ trope and no doubt was focus group-tested to, er, death to reflect the interests of its lovely readers. I like the order of priority too – prizes obviously comes narrowly behind death in the Chat reader’s all-time top 3 of things they want to read about.

I was really taken aback – wow, that’s a bit brazen, I thought. No beating around the bush there! Then I read the cover stories (there’s a lot of elderly people at our local supermarket – one has time to take things in). I’ll just bullet list them because they’re all so totally wrong in every possible way:
  • Why we TATTOOED our quads
  • Kicked to death…for calling this brute HONEY BUNNY
  • I had 10 PINTS of fat sucked out!!!
  • PRONGS OF DEATH! Killed with a pitchfork
  • My lovely wedding dress saved my life!
  • The steamy sex life of MURDERING MARTHA…
Is it just me, or is Chat magazine reducing personal tragedy to sick morbid entertainment for the kind of women who would have been knitting in front of the guillotine during the French revolution? Am I naive to be offended?

Which brings me to the crowds that turned up for hangings at Tyburn. When we look back at our history, we are often shocked by the cheery savagery of the populace turning someone’s death into a day out. But have we really moved on? I genuinely believe that Chat magazine readers would love a few public executions. They’d be there with their camera phones, giggling as some poor fucker kicked air.


Steve said...

"Swift Nick Soils Pantaloons As Crowd Clap To The Tyburn Jig" was a winning headline in the Ye Olde Guardian magazine I do believe...

---- said...

Nothing beats the juxtaposition of the cover story:
"BEING RAPED BY MY FATHER" and the large neon masthead of LOVE IT! magazine.

Tristan said...

That IS a classic! There's obviously an entire genre of gleefully morbid exploitation magazines...

Jimbo said...

"Why we TATTOOED our quads
Kicked to death…for calling this brute HONEY BUNNY
- I had 10 PINTS of fat sucked out!!!
PRONGS OF DEATH! Killed with a pitchfork"

Where can I get this fabulous editorial crack cocaine you call 'Chat Magazine'?

Tom said...

you are writing my brain on the internet - GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

I too saw a copy of this collection of garbage and was somewhat shocked at the order of the words.

Glad I'm not alone, but seriously, I'm going to have to copyright my thoughts if you keep this up!