Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Redbook Magazine - Innocent Provider of Domestic Tips or Purveyor of Pornography?

Slate reports that Walmart will now be selling four magazines behind special covers to hide suggestive cover texts - Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Glamour, and, oddly enough, Redbook. Redbook, which is designed to appeal to thirtysomething married gals, doesn't exactly fit in this "sex and the single girl" category.

However, Redbook covers have a history of controversy. The November 1997 cover featured Pierce Brosnan, his significant other, Keely Shaye Smith, and their infant. The newstand cover featured a picture of Smith breastfeeding the child while Brosnan looked on. The subscriber cover was a more traditional shot of all three looking at the camera. Redbook explained that some subscribers might not want to have their children see the breastfeeding image. Some large chains were antsy about the breastfeeding photo and debated shelving the issue with Playboy and Penthouse to protect shoppers from the indecency of a woman feeding her child.

Given the typical content of Redbook (Would You Choose Your Mate Again? Look Party Perfect Fast! Is Your Child Getting Enough Exercise?) Cosmo and Playboy might seem like strange company for the magazine. My grandmother, however, could have predicted this. She was so prescient that several years ago she cancelled her subscription to Redbook, declaring it filthy trash that she wouldn't have in her house. My mom and I were a little surprised by this extreme reaction to such an innocuous seeming magazine, but it took some doing to elicit an explanation. Both my grandparents kept declaring that it was "dirty" without many more details. Finally, mom and I retreated to the relative privacy of my grandmother's kitchen where she explained in hushed tones that the most recent issue had an article encouraging wives to "lick their husband's penises!" (Cue horrified shrieks suppressed laughter.) Once my grandmother had let the cat out of the bag, my grandfather chimed in, "That's just filthy! It's like something an animal would do. Like what dogs do!" Clearly, Redbook's insidious campaign to corrupt America could not evade my grandparent's sharp notice.

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