A Conversation at the offices of Esquire magazine
Editor: We need to stir the pot a little, and nothing stirs the pot like criticizing something that everybody else seems to like without even trying to understand why people might like it in the first place. Let's see...it's summertime...people go to the beach...people read on the beach...hey, let's do a hatchet job article on books people might read at the beach!
Writer: Great idea. There are already several books that I have to hold my nose at just to be in the same room with.
Editor: Terrific. Now, not only do you have to hate these books, but you also have to mock people who might like them. Make it clear you abhor literary commercialism. We're a serious magazine, and by taking a stance against these stupid books it will increase our street cred in the literary community. Don't make it too long, though, we need to save room for A.J. Jacobs's article about the time he wore a bunny outfit for a month straight.
Writer: This is perfect. I'll make sure our readers know how much we look down on commercialism. These books might look pretty and have millions of readers, but there's nothing of substance underneath. This is ripe for the picking!
Editor: Perfect, you have your assignment. Oh, and don't worry about reading the books. You can cherry pick a few lines or even words to make your case.
Writer: Good. I wasn't planning to.
Editor: Well this was a productive meeting, and I think your article will go a long way in showing the high regard with which we consider our culture. No schlocky books, nothing superficial in our magazines. We're all class, all the way. Oh, did you see our most recent magazine?
Writer: No, sorry, I've been re-reading the last fifty years worth of New Yorker issues in reverse chronological order.
Editor: Ooh, that sounds like fun. Will you be at the beach?
Writer: Nah, people who go to the beach are crass and stupid. And who needs the agita of putting on lotion? Personally, I like to read in the elevator of my apartment building. Makes the setting more intimate.
Editor: Totally. Anyway, check out last month's issue of our magazine.
Writer: Ooh, hot, isn't that the chick from Transformers? Megan Fox?
Editor: Yeah, totally. She's like half naked and everything. And check out our exclusive sexy Megan Fox video!
Writer: Is that her bra? Homina homina homina.
Editor: Tell me about it. Oh, and here's the most recent issue.
Writer: Oh good gracious...is that...
Editor: Damn right, Bar Refaeli, this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model.
Writer: Awesome! And she's, like, totally naked! Wait...are those words painted on her naked, glistening body?
Editor: Yeah. I totally got to do that myself.
Writer: I'm so jealous.
Editor: So listen, get cracking on that article. Commercial literature is just crass and people who read it should feel ashamed of themselves. I'm glad you and I are here to make sure our magazine only covers issues of real substance.
Writer: Speaking of substance, I can see Megan Fox's boobies!
Editor: Totally! I love boobies! High five!