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Throwback Thmid-Thmarch: Details Magazine

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NOTES: This column originally appeared on April 1, 2004. Unlike yesterday's, this one is pretty timeless. I'm not entirely sure someone would publish an article like this today, but that's mainly because nobody reads magazines anymore. I suppose the Greg Louganis reference is a bit dated, but I think he's still the most famous go-to diver I could conceivably use. And you can't rework the bit for swimming just to slot in Michael Phelps there.

Memo to Details Magazine: YOU ARE DUMB.

Today's article requires a visual aid, in the form of a whopping big JPG of a page scanned from the most recent issue of Details, one of those mens' magazines for insecure fuckheads. So click on the link below and have it open for reference.

Gay or Asian?

Ah, where to begin. There's so very much to hate, so very much that is stupid on this page that it's difficult know how to start. So we'll have to rely on standard conventions - top to bottom, left to right.

"Anthropology". That's precisely the kind of faux-ironic dressing up of your comedy as science that gives dressing up your comedy as science a bad name. Right off the bat, they're ruining it for the rest of us who use the power for good. Assholes. This also gives us our first hint of the "OH GOD AREN'T WE CLEVER" attitude that will become more important as we move down the page.

Since we're dealing with an Asian dude, the first stereotype out of the box is... yes, Chinese food. And the second stereotype out of the box is... YES, CHINESE FOOD. This page commits many crimes and sins as it is. Was it really a good idea to compound it with repetition right out of the gate? I think not.

The men's magazine then takes its first shot at the scary homosexuals with "shaved balls". It's funny, but every time I've seen an article this year about the increasing trend of male pube-trimming, it's always been straight guys hopping on the bandwagon. I guess I'm not nearly as in touch with the culture as Details.

"...entering the dragon requires imperial tastes." I don't even get this. I mean, OK, vague connection between Bruce Lee movie (Martial Arts! A totally unexpected turn!) title and some form of penetration, but the whole thing doesn't actually match up to any standards of comedy (or, really English) logic.

"Choke up on your chopsticks, and make sure your labels are showing." So we have a baseball term for gripping a long, hard shaft, a THIRD reference to Chinese food, and some kind of dig at designer-fetishism. Obviously, Ms. Mcnally feels she's on a roll, and decides to hit for the bleachers with...

YES! The fortune cookie sage aphorism, complete with David Carradine overtones, ending with a dick joke! To use my own sports analogy here, this is the comedy equivalent of Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board on the way down. Complete with the horrified splash as the joke makes its final impact with the pool.

Now we turn to the poor model, who probably had no idea he'd be used for something like this, and whose clothes are then made fun of by Whitmey. One would assume, being in the magazine business, Whitney would be aware that models never actually pick out their own clothes, but whatever.

Let's just run down the offense tallies on both sides of the aisle to save time.

Asian: Inscrutable. Check. Obsession with American stars. Check. Accent-mocking. Check. Asian food references four and five. Karate Kid, Last Samurai, Pink Lady namedrops - check, check, and check. And don't forget the bonsai!

Gay: Reference to fringe sexual practice - check. Fashion references two through seven inclusive - check. Dick joke #2. Check. Mentioning the ass at least once... almost didn't get that in there, but YES. Checklist complete.

Sweet fuck, that's trite. I mean, essentially, there are FOUR jokes on the entire page: "Asians make Asian food.", "Asians know kung fu.", "Gay guys like clothes.", and "Gay guys like dick." That's what the whole thing boils down to. I mean, if you're going to incur the wrath of two entire communities, and they did, wouldn't you at least want it to be from something daring? Something bold? Something even remotely... funny?

Here, by the way, is apparently how they plan to "apologize".

"The "Gay or Asian?" item in our April issue was part of a continuing feature that is intended as a humorous swipe at social stereotypes. Details has a wide readership?male, female, straight, gay?from all cultures, and we value all of them. We appreciate the substantial feedback on this item that we have received, and we will certainly keep those concerns in mind as we move forward. We regret that anyone was offended by the article, as that was not our intention."

TRANSLATION: Um, we were making fun OF stereotypes, really, not making fun USING them. We love everyone who gives us money! It wasn't our fault, and why are you so damn sensitive, anyway? Oh, and we're gonna keep doing it.

Dumb or smart? You make the call. Oh, wait. That's my job. DUMB.

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