Let’s read FHM

You may remember a few posts ago, I read an entire issue of Cosmopolitan and promosed to read an issue of Maxim the next week for equality. Well, I wasn’t able to find Maxim on sale for whatever reason, but I did manage to pick up an issue of FHM, which is also the male Cosmo. I also got a new printer/scanner with my Christmas money, so the pictures will be a lot better.

Cover

cover2

Well this is orange. Very, very, very orange. Orange text on an orange-tinted background that itself has a lot of orange on it makes the headlines difficult to read. Things aren’t off to a good start.

The centre of the cover is a chick eating an ice cream in a deliberately fellatic manner while making a ‘come hither’ look with her eyes. Her clothing is interesting. It’s a belly top, which is pretty in a slightly teenage way, and is fluffy with long sleeves; this is all indicative of innocence and naivete. However, the top is held together with a series of small clips which expose her lack of bra. Much like the dress Zosia Mamet wore when interivewed by Jimmy Fallon, this is an aspect of women’s clothing that says “I may appear sweet and innocent, but in reality I know about sex and I know what I like as evidenced by how I am eating this ice cream.”

But enough about the model, let’s talk about the headlines. The eye is drawn to the big text in the bottom left: “Big Ideas for 2015 starting with Emily Ratajkowski”, who I surmise to be the lady on the cover. All I know about her is that she was naked in the “Blurred Lines” video.

Under that there’s “Rocket Cars!” (Sweet) “Get Rich From Beer!” (Suuure….) “Doughnut Burgers!” (Why?) “And More!” (Oh goodie).

Moving on up on the left side, we see a metallic silver circle with more orange text in it, made even more difficult to read by the way the light reflects. You can’t really see it in a static image, but trust me, it’s annoying. It says “Everything a Man Must Know: Achieve Greatness Now!” That would be some good information, but I won’t hold my breath.

To the right, we have “Happiness! Bigger Guns! Wig Outs!” Wait, ‘bigger’ guns. FHM is a British magazine; British men, like most others, generally don’t have guns.

“40 of the Best (and Worst) Drugs” Ooh, drugs! I like drugs! Uh, don’t tell my boss I wrote that.

“On High With Britain’s Mountain Heroes”. OK, so a feature on rescue workers. That’s a good idea.

“Would You Rather? Classic Pub Debates Settled by Science!” Really? Science? Just how accurate is this science? And isn’t that the point of smartphones?

Overall, compared to the Cosmo cover, the layout here is quite a bit worse. The headlines focus more on fun and the presence of breasts than on sex, and does anyone else think it’s weird that women talking about sex is often seen as empowering and positive, but men talking about what they like is icky and perverted? Odd considering men are thought of as the sex that always wants to do it.

Early Pages

The inside cover and first page are given over to a two-page spread for cologne. The actual content starts on page 2, with an editorial about how they’re totally going to inspire the reader to do lots of awesome new things. A tiny bit at the top confirms that the chick on the cover is indeed Emily Ratajkowski, and also informs me that any pictures of her in the magazine were not shot for FHM, which is disappointing, and also slightly misleading thought I can’t quite put my finger on why.

toc

There’s also a table of contents that I don’t really have anything to say about.

After another ad there’s a credits page which also lists some fun things the staff got up to in the last month. It’s interesting to note that FHM has a much more even staff sex ratio than Cosmo.

After that there’s a two-page spread promising ‘The Hot List’ in next month’s issue. A bit early, don’t you think, fellas? We haven’t even started this issue yet and already you’re trying to get me to buy the next one?

Oh, and then there’s a letter page (well, two pages) of people telling them how awesome they are, with the best letter winning a reasonable-screen TV and Blu-Ray player. There’s no mention of branding, which indicates that this isn’t a promotion, and so even in this age when print media is allegedly dying, FHM still brings in enough advertising money to give away decent prizes every week.

Access

So a bunch of articles in the first section have the heading Access in the top edge corner. The first of these is an interview with a 26-year-old lady by the name of Brittany Brousseau, a model who likes surfing and originally wanted to be a secret agent. Really, it’s three black-and-white photos of her in her underwear with a sketchy Q&A along the side. Yeah, it’s really nothing more than “Look! Tits!” As an aside, does anyone else find it unsettling that the women going around being all adult and sexual and famous on TV are younger than you? Just me? OK then.

Next up is a piece intended to inspire the reader, an interview with professional dirt bike racer Dan Atherton. What I took away from it was that you can break your neck if you’re not careful, so don’t actually be reckless.

aphrodisiacs

This is followed by an investigation into aphrodisiacs. To their credit, the writers do at least make an effort to get some science behind how several aphrodisiacs might work and point out when a few do not, but they utterly lack any form of insight or nuance, and the tests the staff do administer, while clearly meant to just be a bit of fun, don’t even suggest what might work or not.

The next thing is a full-on multi-page feature, 10 Things to Do in the Month Ahead. #1 is to prepare your brain for the Superbowl, which is confusingly referred to as the biggest sporting event on Earth. Seriously, British staff? An event nobody outside America watches is bigger than the World Cup? Whatever, it’s just a list of beers to drink and sweets to eat, and does admit that American football is confusing and boring. As for the rest..

  1. Let Kevin Hart woo you a lady: Some basic love/flirtation advice ahead of Valentine’s Day, and perspectives on some romcom-type gestures. Maybe if I had a girlfriend.
  2. Ask if electricity is removing the balls from motorsports: This item actually advises you to check out Formula E, an all-electric version of Formula 1 that promises to be a lot more fun and exciting.
  3. Prepare for another zombie uprising: A list of zombie-related jokes and trivia to honour the fact that there’s a new Resident Evil game out.
  4. Rediscover your local record shop: Actually a short interview with Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 fame about how he’s promoting the album he made with his new band, Angels & Airwaves. People are, like, totally rebelling against digital downloads and looking for physical products again, man!
  5. Digest a serving of Serial: Yup, everyone knows Serial is the best podcast of all time, though it just strikes me as a bit morbid.
  6. Applaud the winners of FHM‘s alternative film awards: “Here are some movies we like”.
  7. Choose a side in this musical weird-out – Marilyn Manson vs Die Antwood: A couple of musicians are weird. Not to my taste.
  8. Nerd out on Ant-Man before he gets too big: You know, I would have said that an Ant-Man movie was doomed to failure because it’s freaking Ant-Man, but so far Marvel has managed to win every single time. This one will be a challenge, but their marketing has worked brilliantly so far, so this could work.
  9. Jump into the tub with Bianca Haase: “Look! Tits!” And apparently someone made Hot Tub Time Machine 2 for some reason.

And now we have an essay: “Is the Internet Turning Us Into Ghouls?” It’s a pretty reasonable and balanced article about how violence is resported and how people view and share such material, while neither saying “This is great!” or condemning it as worthless and harmful. Surprisingly intelligent and thoughtful, and not what I’ve been expecting after the last few pages.

Things continue on a higherbrow trend with a list of 15 coffee table books worth getting, though again it’s a page and a half of a photograph of the books with just a tiny blurb on the side, much like a real coffee table book come to think of it.

Ooh, then they go to an anime convention to ask cosplaying attendees about what they think the world will be like in 50 years. Since a good number of these are attractive young women, I approve.

anime.png

After an ad, there’s a one-page article about how dad’s fleece is back in fashion. Hmm. There’s quite a lot about clothes in this magazine. Kudos for not buying into the jock/metrosexual duality FHM.

And then there’s a six-page article on/interview with former Liverpool/Réal Madrid footballer Steve McManaman. Snore, but I guess this is popular with most of the target demographic.

The end of the Access section is a ‘bloke test’ in which a DJ by the name of Wilkinson answers light-hearted questions on his masculinity. This page is sponsored by razors – Bluebeard’s Revenge, surprisingly, and not Wilkinson Sword.

After this, there are two complementary one-page ads for SciMX weight gain powder, to reassure the readers that for all the stuff about fashion, they’re also into body building. Between these pages is a single page about the joys of vermouth.

Journalism

Now we apparently get into some more in-depth content. First up is a recipe for a Philly Cheesesteak. I’m sold. Apart from the mayonnaise, this does actually look really good; I’d have to try it even if Megas XLR hadn’t already planted a desire for one in my brain.

After that is an interview with two good friends about how their deep friendship helped one deal with cancer. It’s a nice look at the good aspects of humanity, only spoiled by the fact that it’s basically a framework in which to embed an ad for… uh, a cancer charity. Maybe I was a little hasty condemning it.

Then there’s another list, this time of 10 things that will be great in 2015.

    1. “Daisy Pettinger to bring more of her Derby charm ot your ad breaks” LOOK! TITS! And maybe I’d see them if I watched TV.
      DaisyPettigrew
    2. “Drive at 1,000mph across the desert for no reason at all” No, you and I actually can’t. It’s about former RAF pilot Andy Green’s attempt to break the land speed record. Good luck to him, but if this was on the Internet it would be condemned as misleading clickbait.
    3. to 6. “More young Brits to dominate Hollywood” And now they cheat by taking a single item covering Douglas Booth, Daisy Ridley, Taron Egerton, and Maisie Williams, and list it as four items to bring up the final number. Also, isn’t Williams Irish?
    4. “Kettles to become smarter than most of your friends” Oh Haruhi please don’t connect my kettle to the Internet. That is a stupid idea. Also, it’s I, Robot, not iRobot.
    5. DJs who look more like this” The most blatant “LOOK! TITS”  moment yet, this is nothing more than a photo of a model who also disc jockeys.
    6. “Virtual reality that might actually, finally, not suck” Perhaps, but I doubt it will be in 2015. Also, this is one point listed as four.
    7. “TV shows that’ll make you forget True Detective” Another single item listed as four. Maybe if I watched TV.
    8. “Channing Tatum to take a leaf out of Matthew McConaughey’s book of reinvention and get serious” I don’t really pay attention to who’s in a movie, so this doesn’t matter to me, though the writers seem to be really excited about Jupiter Ascending. I’ve placed a bet with Lindsay Ellis that Sean Bean will die around 100 minutes in.
    9. “Gut-busting fast food”: OK, so here’s the doughnut burger promised on the cover. The item is about fast food joints crafting deals intended not to be tasty or filling, but to look impressive when posted on social media. That… does not seem like a world I want to live in.
doughnut-burger.jpg

 

  • “Five things that will make Star Wars: the Force Awakens not suck”: Surpisingly, this one item is not numbered as five. It is, however, merely five things they’d like to see in the The Force Awakens, and not actually anything that will make 2015 any good.
  • “Wearable tech that’s actually wearable”: This time, they inteeview a high-up at Motorola, who promises smartwatches with sensible battery lives and proper voice command. OK, this one actually has me excited. Will we finally get those wrist communicators everyone had in 90s scifi? Please?
  • “Pornography made by people who are actually enjoying it” is an enthusiastic description of X-Art, with the interesting note that the majority of the sex on it is performed by real couples. Hmm. I think this may merit further, uh, research.
  • “Travel the continent, drink beer, and get rich in the process”: No, that’s not how it happened. This is a short interview with James Brown, a man who travelled across Europe with his dad, sampling microbrews at each stop. Brown got the idea to essentailly found a beer of the week club distributing unknown, locally-produced beer. You know, I am really starting to feel like I’m not in the target demographic. Still, it sounds like Brown and father had some really good bonding on their trip, and good on him for running his own company that helps small producers at such a young age.
  • “Gavlyn to hit big… and four  more rappers (that Pro Green rates)”: “LOOK! TITS! Oh, and some other rappers, but MOSTLY TITS!”
  • “Royal Blood to headline Glastonbury”: And the single sentence is that isn’t going to happen, but they’re destined for good things. Lads, I’ve already bought the magazine, you don’t need to tempt me with fake headlines. And if I’m leafing through this at the newsagent, I’m distracted by the breasts.
  • “More releases from Boy Better Know”: Hey, I see some breasts on the next page.
  • “Val Keil to rule over Instagram”: “LOOK! TITS!”
  • “Games to get bigger, cleverer, and more brutal”: Yet another item listed as four. Oh well, Evolve looks interesting, but by its very premise it looks like it’s going to be online multiplayer only.
  • “Emily Ratajkowski to star in more super arty-type films”: The final item, and the sole point of the list, is eight pages of “LOOK! TITS” applied to Emily Ratajkowski, with particular attention paid to her Australian cleavage. To make it insulting, the pictures weren’t even taken by FHM, they were bought. There’s also an article in there about her filmography, but I’m just glad I get to be efficient by using a single bullet point to cover eight pages.

 

OK, so after I wrote that sentence I actually started reading the article, and it praises the “Blurred Lines” video. No. Just… no. Whatever about Ratajkowski’s talents you can’t seriously think “Blurred Lines” is good except in the same sense that people admire Birth of a Nation.

Well anyway, that’s enough of that. We now have another cover article, “Would You Rather?” This is a light-hearted few pages in which they take common discussion topics you have with your friends and get perspectives from, not necessarily experts, but at least people who know what they’re talking about. Actually pretty interesting and informative. Turns out FHM can do good articles when it wants to.

This is followed by yet another cover story, following a day in the life of mountain rescue volunteers in the Lake District. So basically the cover is to advertise the middle third of the magazine, right? Ah well, this is another deeper and high-quality article. Good stuff.

The good stuff ends with a “How-To Special”, in which professionals explain how to do various things from tidy your desk to recruit teenagers into Islamic fundamentalism (don’t worry, the terrorist is Maajid Nawaz, who has reformed). Again, this is surprisingly worthwhile writing, though daredevil Matthew Pritchard is clearly a complete idiot.

Style

Two two-page ads separate the good stuff from the fashion section. It’s about clothes, so I surmise that caring about what one wears is considered masculine nowadays. The only interesting thing in this section is a trio of interviews with young entrepreneurs, talking about fashion and running their own businesses. It’s the sort of thing I expected to see in Cosmo, but didn’t. Moving swiftly on, the style section ends with an ad for an online service run by FHM promising to set you up with hot single girls in your area! Really!

Upgrade

Final part of the mag, we’re ont the home stretch. I gather that this section is about general ways to improve your life, and it starts with another cover story, six pages on the best and worst drugs to take, using drug in the medicinal sense of the word. Good effort, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to base by phsyiology- or consciousness-altering decisions on a couple of sentences in a lads’ mag. Still, it does give a good idea of where to start researching if you’re in the mood for getting high. Me, I’ll just stick to trying to program in Lisp.

This is followed by a two-page positive description of a writer’s solo romantic weekend in Dublin, which as an Irishman I am legally obliged to approve of. After that, they get one of their models to rate the scents of various celebrity colognes, where I learn not to wear Rihanna’s Rogue Man.

After that there’s two pages of basic DIT tips and two pages reviewing the Audi TT. Not as good as the in-depth stuff from the middle, but of a higher standard than the beginning.

This section is rounded off with a lingerie shoot and sketchy interview. Say it with me lads… “LOOK! TITS!”

Odds and ends

Another four pages of ads later and we come to an account written by a doctor with Doctors Without Borders about treating Ebola in Kailahun. Wow, this is good stuff. Nice work, FHM, but did this really have to wait until the very end?

And then on the last page we return to levity with “The Final Countdown: 8 things you only do in front of your girlfriend after six month”. I wish I had a girlfriend…

Verdict

So that was FHM. On the whole, it was pretty decent. Not quite as good as Cosmopolitan managed to be, but for the most part enjoyable, with several actually good, worthwhile articles in it. Plus partly-clad women. Plenty of partly-clad women.

I was pretty snarky for most of this post, but really, I didn’t hate it as much as it seems, and even the silly stuff at least held my attention. I probably won’t buy it again, but I don’t regret spending money on this one issue. All in all, a decent product, and I wish the staff well.

 

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