PERSPECTIVE: Brown’s GQ boasts attitudes present at the Rome game

I went to the ’battle of Rome’ with Wnek Tours (see Diary, back page) armed only with the first James Brown-edited GQ and my belt. I emerged beltless with a few illusions shattered both about Italy and Conde Nast.

I went to the ’battle of Rome’ with Wnek Tours (see Diary, back

page) armed only with the first James Brown-edited GQ and my belt. I

emerged beltless with a few illusions shattered both about Italy and

Conde Nast.



It seemed appropriate to read GQ on the trip. England vs Italy in Rome

for a vital World Cup qualifier is lad heaven on a par with a desert

island with Pammy, Melinda, Joanne Guest and a crate of lager. The

luring of Brown to GQ from Loaded symbolised the triumph of the lad in

publishing, when even a quality operation like Conde Nast found itself

unable to ignore any longer the soaring circulations of Loaded and FHM.

But, we were reassured, Brown had grown up and was not to be

underestimated; he had other strings to his bow in addition to laddism.

Against my natural inclinations, I fell for it, largely because I view

the managing director of Conde Nast, Nicholas Coleridge, as the

classiest man in British magazine publishing (see this week’s insert for

further proof).



So, when I took the jam-packed-with-ads copy out on the plane and saw

the ultimate lad, Paul Weller, was the first cover, I was sanguine. Then

my eye fell towards the bottom of the page: ’Twelve pages of sexy chicks

in pants.’ I’d make a crap editor of GQ because I thought the headline

for that feature, ’Save the whalebone’, was a bit lame, and its

standfirst, ’Phew! What an Orca!’, vaguely desperate.



I also failed to see the post-modern humour of the sexy chicks in pants

bending over or faking masturbation with either their hands or a javelin

between their thighs. It was all a bit sad really, as were the

gratuitous shots of willies etc in a real-life ER spread, and the

Loaded/FHM-style new letters page. But, what do I know? My favourite bit

in it was a cracking GQ&A: Lee Hurst and Arthur Scargill, and that’s an

old GQ feature. (Martin Deeson going on a grouseshoot was good stuff,

too!)



There have been innumerable rumours about Brown and his team and

ructions at Conde Nast. I can’t comment, save to say that the company

knew the nature of the beast it was hiring. An interesting question is

how genuinely a Coleridge appointment it was, and what role the Newhouse

family played. Either way, to claim the new-look magazine has not gone

all lad is to make words meaningless.



Whatever, the lads on the trip will have enjoyed the new tone. It left

me to lament my chances of now ever getting a job at Conde Nast, and to

ponder the link between the dominant tone of laddism and the attitude of

the small minority of fans in Rome who thought the police beating they

received was all part of a laddish, heroic battle, and not one of the

saddest nights of their sporting lives.



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