You'd think that reading a couple newspapers every day, watching the news at 6 and 10 and subscribing to a few reputable monthly magazines would be enough to keep one informed on what's really going on in the world.
Wrong.Ever since the Deseret News ran an article a month or two back on Utah's 10 top-selling newsstand magazines, I've been plagued with doubts about my ability to keep up on important issues. None of the magazines I read regularly made the top 10.
You may recall the list. In order of popularity, the magazines were TV Guide, People, National Enquirer, Penthouse, Woman's Day, The Star, Family Circle, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest and Vogue.
Granted, the list might change if we included home subscriptions. Nevertheless, I was surprised that these magazines - with one or two exceptions - do so well and that men's magazines like Penthouse easily outsell news magazines like Time and Newsweek.
So, why are such intellectually bankrupt publications so popular? I figured the only way to find out was to take a good look at what I've been missing all these years.
1. TV Guide: This is the magazine touted as the "best thing on television" - an oxymoron if I've ever heard one. This week's issue includes articles on the new stars in "The Winds of War" sequel, the movie "War and Remembrance" ("Wartime romance: There was a special glow . . . and sadness") and "Election '88 - A post-mortem." This stuff sells?
2. People: Actress Kelly McGillis, currently starring in "The Accused," makes the front cover of the latest issue beside the headline "Rape, Shame and Fear." In the ensuing interview, McGillis gives readers a play-by-play of how she was raped a few years back. You'll no doubt want to run out and see her latest movie after reading the article. In addition, we learn that Ex-Batman Boy Wonder Burt Ward "now uses his POW!er to make videos," that singer Tanya Tucker "says goodbye to brawling and barhopping" and that naturalist Heidi Mosbacher "hangs, almost exclusively, with sloths."
3. National Enquirer: A true bastion of American journalism, this week's issue keeps us up on Mike Tyson and Robin Givens - "America's most hated woman." Other must-read stories include "Girl, 8, is pregnant" and "Springsteen and girlfriend are fighting like mad - already." And, for those enquiring minds seeking the latest on Elvis Presley, the new issue offers "Fascinating little-known facts about Elvis." For example, did you know that Elvis owned 20 pairs of pajamas and that he was wearing a blue top and yellow bottoms when he died? No wonder the Enquirer sells so well.
4. Penthouse: Unfortunately, I was unable to peruse the latest issue in my quest for further enlightenment. Men's magazines aren't easy to come by in Utah County, and I couldn't find one in Sandy either. But sales, no doubt, were boosted in September when Salt Lake native Twyla Martak was the featured Pet of the Month. Kind of makes you proud, doesn't it?
5. Woman's Day: Just in time for the holidays, the new issue features an article on "How not to get fat this winter." One of the best ways is to ignore two accompanying articles: "10 foods to make you prettier" and "Real meals from your microwave." Other articles include "Kids ruled by Satan" and "Is your kid sick enough to stay home." Kids ruled by Satan, of course, are sick enough to stay home.
6. The Star: Real news made it into this week's issue, as actress Sally Field tells us how "I saved my baby in a plane crash." We learn that a hit man was "hired to kill Frank Sinatra" as well as "Cher's sexy shocker - I made love with Warren Beatty, and the earth didn't move." Also featured is your holiday horoscope.
7. Family Circle: Besides a couple articles on George Bush, Michael Dukakis and their wives, Family Circle headlines include "Beauty from the pros - one-minute to one-hour treatments," hot potato and quick Chinese food recipes, and an article titled "Stop! Before you have surgery, read page 49." I didn't make it that far.
8. Cosmopolitan: This month's issue gives a plug to Joan Collins' first novel and features articles on extramarital affairs and sexual desire. Who needs Penthouse?
9. Reader's Digest: As it does every month, the latest issue features a couple dozen articles on a variety of subjects. The cover of the new issue, however, touts the article "Sex secrets wives keep." But you can also find out "How to argue with your boss," "What's your best time of day" and "Why our weather is going wild."
10. Vogue: The magazine that dares to ask, "Men - the new bimbos?" The new issue also tells us "The real cost of looking good" and features "Paris Couture - haute but not haughty" and other French words.
Now, if only daily newspapers would feature more fashion, celebrities, sex, violence, sensationalism and non-news, we might be able to boost sales. That's too bad.