Cosmos on Campus is a new 56-page magazine aimed at female university students in order to sell them crap they don't really need. Call me cynical if you wish, but when you consider that more than a third of these 56 pages consists for adverts targeted at 18 to 21 year old women, there's really no other reason why this publication was created in the first place. Why else would they have spammed 250,000 students in the country with it? And if the word "Cosmos" sounds familiar, that's because it's a spin-off to its major sister publication, Cosmopolitian.
Cosmopolitian is one of those faux-post feminist magazines produced in the belief that the only things their demographic is interested in are clothes, looking perfectly flawlessly beautiful in every way and shagging men every night (the concept of homosexuality does not exist at Hearst Magazines). To me, it appears to be a graphic novel based on Sex and the City. Each issue is stuffed to the brim with adverts for dresses, make-up, fragrances and hair products, as well as numerous articles giving tips and advice health, fitness, fashion and sex. I'd be particularly wary of obtaining information from a cheap publication when, for example, in 1988 one of its article claimed that it was impossible to contract HIV in the missonary position. There's also "real-life stories", ancedotes laughing at men and tedious gossip about celebrities you've probably never heard of. But anyway, this blog post isn't about Cosmopolitian, it's about its sister publication which I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of a few weeks ago.
As I have a Y chromosome in every single nucleus in every cell in my body (edit: excluding sperm cells), I have never read nor bought a copy of Cosmopolitian before, and neither has anyone else in my family. Normally, I'd avoid such trash and would rather read something more interesting/useful like The Guardian or New Scientist. Nevertheless, considering that some poor underpaid paperboy took the time to fill every single pidgeonhole at my college with a free copy of this publication, I will return the favour by posting the following page-by-page review of all 56 pages of Autumn Term 2010's Cosmo on Campus from a male perspective below, expressing my thoughts and opinions about Every. Single. Page. If you still have your copy with you, feel free to read and laugh along as we make our way from cover to cover for no real reason in particular:
Front cover: Some woman apparently called "Pixie" grins awkwardly out in a pink dress, surrounded by FASHION DISCOUNTS! and a bloody big yellow banner telling you something which I've already told you. Plus there's "REAL LIFE CELEBRITY SEX CONFIDENCE BEAUTY" which is a perfect example of a basic search engine optimization technique if I ever saw one.
p2: Something which vaguely resembles an editorial in which they threaten to land a new copy "at campuses across the land at the start of every term." Please don't tell me I'm going to have to do this all over again in January. There's also a section asking for you think up advice for their next issue so they don't have to and a plug for their blog competition which I am not planning to enter. Finally, they suggest following the Cosmo team on Twitter except they forgot to print the entire URL so we just have a link to the Twitter homepage. Tee hee.
p3: All the contents illustrated by tiny thumbnails of all the remaining pages except the adverts. If you wanted to, you could cut out and stick all the pages together to make a miniature copy of Compus on Campus for your pet hamster.
(Dull advert for clothes shop student discount.)
p5-6: "Happy List", offering "5 Best Ways To Be A Sorted Student". In summary, these 5 ways are 1. Buy an ugly laptop case. 2. Drink a "shandy" (I'm teetotal) 3. Download some apps (I don't own an iPhone) 4. Buy a cheap ring (I'm not Jimmy Saville) 5. Go to Radio 1's Student Tour and see 30 Seconds To Mars (I'm not a 14 year old Emo). I therefore have concluded that I am an "unsorted" student and am prepared to suffer the concequences of being "unsorted". Also, page 6 claims that blogging is "a perfect way for wannabe writers to make their name". To be realistic, you will always remain niche unless you somehow get hired to spew out your uninformed opinions and kneejerkery on a local radio station as well as the web. Still, I'm hoping this post will result in me winning big at next year's Cosmo Blog Awards.
(Lotion advert telling you how brilliant you'll look if you buy these 3 skin care products. Of course they'll help create great skin, our "guiding dermatologists" say so!)
(Another lotion advert, this time it's called "Cinderella in a tube" [surely Fairy Godmother?]. Obviously, it'll only work until the stroke of midnight and then your face falls off.)
p9: Freshers' Week Confessions, where you can read about women being caught having sex or kissing their boyfriend's twin or pissing themselves. No clue as to whether this behaviour is supposed to be encouraged or not here.
(Moisturiser advert using lady's big fat face which takes up half the page.)
p11: “AMAZING FASHION & BEAUTY DISCOUNTS & FREEBIES!” And by freebies, I mean “competition promotions”. Ergo, they are not freebies. Lies, damned lies.
p12-13: The main feature: a double-spread interview with “Pixie Lott”. I have no idea who she is so I’ll assume she was in Girls Aloud. Here, “Pixie” gives relationship advice, most of which seems rather sensible so I can’t make fun of this and will instead move onto...
(Skipping over clothes advert)
p14-15: ...The Sex Pages, possibly the most depressing part of the entire magazine if you’re single. In these sexually-liberated times, the reader is encouraged to experiment and practise achieving “mind-blowing” orgasms on their own before moving onto teaching men how to do the same. It also recommends to “start thinking erotically at odd times – while sitting in the library, say” to get in the mood. I have done this and have found it incredibly distracting and inconvenient when there’s a deadline the following morning that needs meeting. There are three sexual positions described in text (no illustrations, you’ll have to use the full-page adverts and your imagination for that) written in such a way that those who aren’t sexually active feel left out. (For those interested, these three are “The X-Rated”, “The
(Accessories advert featuring two women with faces seemingly moulded from plastic)
p18-19: A quiz promising to help you discover your "true confidence" based entirely on what you wear and whether you enjoy social gatherings. Apparently, I’m a “confidence faker” and that I should “change your passwords to something positive. ‘I-am-ace’ should do the trick!” Um, no, thanks, I like not having my accounts hacked.
p20-21: SHOCK! HORROR! A lengthy monologue from a woman whose landlord didn’t fit a fire alarm and nearly KILLED HER! Complete with images and detailed descriptions of horrific burns, these two pages are probably the most serious, albeit still unbearable, section of the entire publication.
p22-23: Normal service resumes with an article about “The Curse of the First-Term Friends”. This article explains that all the friends you will find during Freshers’ Week will turn out to be annoying weirdos and you won’t to hang around with them the following week. Charming. Most of the friends I made during first-term were weirdos and I’m still friends with them today, mainly because I’m one of them. One part of the page has the heading “Wear a friendship condom”. As this is a metaphor, it does not count as proper contraceptive advice.
p24: It’s a debate! What important issue will be discussed? Should tuition fees go up? Is alcohol a major cause of society’s ills? Of course not, it’s whether long-distance love can survive uni. Laura undermines her case against the proposition by revealing that she dumped her boyfriend by text. What an immature bitch.
(And it is at this point where we come to the real reason why this publication exists. Here we have coupons for discounts on the next three month’s issues of Cosmopolitan. It’s obvious what they’re doing here; they get their customers hooked on the light stuff, given away as free samples, before tempting them with the hard stuff in exchange for their cash. They even throw in some nail polish to drink.)
p26-27: The Inevitable Agony Aunt section. Apart from sensible advice, this section also contains the only proper mention of using contraception in the entire publication. I would also like to point out that because this is the first ever issue of Cosmo on Campus, all six letters on this page are likely to be fake, unless a request for content was posted on the Cosmopolitan website.
p28: Half-way there! Bored yet? We now come to a questionnaire, where the reader is asked what she thinks of Cosmo on Campus. Oh, I’ll tell you what I think of Cosmo on Campus!
p29-34 (+ promotional pullout): Lots and lots and lots of pages with clothes, shoes and accessories shown on them. Basically, the Peter Jackson Extended Edition of the adverts seen earlier. Yawn. Some pages are illustrated with z-list celebrities I've never heard of...
p35: ...whereas this page contains a timeline of how those two gits from Twilight who can’t act have changed over the years. Also, “R-Patz” is the stupidest nickname I have ever heard.
(Double page advert for an aviator jacket, as worn by someone who looks like, has the same dirty expression and in a similar reclining position to a porn star. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she moonlights as one. No, I will not upload a scan.)
(Advert for magic water which makes your skin clearer. It’s not a homeopathic remedy but I bet it’s no different. Wouldn’t tap water do the same thing?)
p39: Entire page devoted to 3 “tricks” to combat “hangover skin”, illustrated by an airbrushed photo of a woman with perfect skin and stupid hair. These “tricks” are 1. Sleep on an extra pillow to keep your head higher as this will “help drain away excess fluid and stop puffiness taking hold while you sleep”. (I’m not buying this.) 2. Drink two pints of water as soon as you wake up and then stick ice cubes in your eyes. (Personally, I would drink the two pints of water during the night before so that I wouldn’t get “hangover skin” in the first place.) 3. Buy this specific branded light-reflecting product for £4.49 and then draw on your face with a white pencil. (Alternatively, don’t drink so much and you won’t get hung-over in the first place.)
(Garnier advert for a magic brush to clean your face with instead of a sponge or flannel. The big fat face from page 10 makes a return appearance. Ok, her eyes are a different colour but I'm trying to derive some sarcastic humour here.)
p41: When will it all end?! Now we have more beauty products flogging so you can look just like these z-list nobodies. Who the hell is “Kim Kardashian” anyway?!
(Shampoo promotion, one for three different hair colours. Do women need to buy a specific product for their hair colour? Why can’t they just use one that works on any colour?)
(Advert for three perfumes named after times of the day beginning with D. Apparently, these insignificant perfumes are being sold under Dannii Minogue’s name, with a not-so-subliminal use of the phrase “The X Factor” in the “beauty assistant’s” quote.)
(Double page promotion to 3 products which will make your skin “happy”. The left page consists of a huge photo of a women’s face which most definitely does not look happy. I’d say her skin would look “vacant” or “braindead”. Anyway, this advert claims that “the 3-step routine is cheaper than a bottle of water a day!” Yeah, but I get my water from the sink and that costs me nothing. I assume you’re offering to pay me to rub three different liquids into my face every day.)
p46: Competition time! Make all your debt-worries disappear, or at least, buy a ridiculous amount of beauty products you don’t really need, by winning some “serious money” (as opposed to “light-hearted money” or “humorous money”). All you have to do is text in, lose a few pounds and hand over your personal details to a third party to spam you with. How could I lose?
p47: Oh God, it’s the Man Manual, possibly the worst thing I have read so far in here. First, they provide “3 things all guys are thinking about this term”. These are 1. “Denim shorts” (it’s nearly Winter, don’t be stupid) 2. “Cutting back on daytime TV” (Most of us don’t even get time to watch primetime TV. Also, it’s Come Dine With Me and Deal or No Deal, not Coach Trip and Countdown) 3. “How to get the parents to fork out for a MacBook” (Most students will already have done this by the time they arrive). And yes, there’s a photo of a topless man with a perfect torso and his belt undone on his denim shorts on this page, as well as the next two...
p48-49: “These comments could seriously damage your view of men.” Oh terrific. Here we have an interview with four alpha-male twats from Glasgow bragging about how they fantasise having sex with virtually everyone they see and that you can’t be “just friends” with any women and that they would give bad relationship advice to someone they fancy to keep them single and that they don’t see anything wrong about everything they just said. I don’t understand why they put this misandric attack on men in the same publication as one which 32 pages earlier described sexual positions you and “your man” would love. So I can only assume this publication hates women too and wants to keep them underneath, both figuratively and literally, male domination and exploitation.
p50: Ugh. An incredibly ugly, hairy, naked man takes up entire page, modesty covered by crumpled sheet. Just ugh. Apparently, he once woke up in a hay bale after a party. From the looks of him, I’d say this happened the morning the photo was taken. God, I feel nauseous just looking at him. (No, I will not upload a scan!)
p51: Long, rambling piece about how men recover from break-up, written by a sensible bloke for a change. Almost comes close to balancing out some of the claptrap on the last few pages. Häagen-Dazs is mentioned a few times.
p52: Nearly done now. This page has a colourful chart depicting “student man-tribes”, as if university will be like living in a real-life chic-flick or Bully. Of course, a description of these clichés is not enough, so there is a comparison to some celebrities who are nothing like the students in the clichés, of course. These “tribes” are The Urban Nerd (obsessed with music), The Hot Geek (probably the closest match to me here), The Dropout, The Posh Pony (more commonly known as a “rah”) and The Lovely Lothario (I actually know someone who fits this category like a glove). Apparently, my “celeb guru” is Mark Ronson, who I think is that guy who puts childish trumpets all over his cover songs which he doesn’t even sing on.
p53: Astrology bullshit, most of which is basically “don’t spend all your money”. Apparently, I will meet a special person next term or have a total change in direction with my boyfriend at home. And, I assume, so will the tens of thousands of other students who were born within 15 days of my birthday. Still, I can always find out more by calling a premium rate phoneline. Sorry, what was that about "money habits" again?
p54: “10 rules of communal living”, most of which appear to be applications of Sod’s Law. I can’t think of anything else to type here, partly because I can’t take any more of this but also because they haven’t really any real content here (“Pot Noodle cartons in her bed! Hee hee!”)
(And, once again, we have an advert for Cosmopolitan, this time offering a student discount on their subscription. I’ve already made the drug-dealing analogy and it won’t be any wittier a second time.)
Back cover: Perfume advert with a woman in a nightie holding a ridiculously oversized bottle of fragrance and another woman who the incompetent designer has half cropped out
Ahhh, it’s finally over. 56 pages of content aimed at young female students, about 20 of which (~36%) consists of full-page adverts (and this doesn't even take into account of the endless name-dropping of other products in the actual articles). So what have we learnt from Comos on Campus today? Well, it seems that women should only be interested in clothes, accessories, beauty products and sleeping with men, despite the fact they’re all sex-obsessed, unfaithful rats. Inside these pages, it depicts a vacuous, shallow world in which everyone looks fabulously gorgeous and has a great time and have amazing sex with each other every night and complete fulfilment in life can be achieved by merely purchasing a pair of shoes and a dress and men will fall at your feet if you spray yourself with this perfume and washing your hair with this shampoo and rub this liquid in your face every day.
This is not a world in which I want to live in and do not wish to associate myself with anyone who does.
Right, time to put this publication where it belongs.