Saturday, July 6, 2019

Mad Magazine's demise

Alfred E. Newman: "What, me worry?"
Back then, there were adults.

The adults were separated from the children. The adults had the magic, they had the power and what the adults said was the law. So what was a budding teenager to do? Where could s/he look for someone to be on her or his team? Just about the time that adult hypocrisy came into focus, a kid could get lost in the confusion.
Enter, in 1952, Mad Magazine, salvor of the downtrodden and confused. Mad raised the questions that no adult ever seemed willing to answer. "Whaddyou mean 'take out the garbage?!'"
Mad magazine, the class clown of American publishing, is being shuffled off to the periodical equivalent of an old-folks home at the age of 67. After the next two issues, a publication that specialized in thumbing its nose at authority will no longer include new material, except in year-end specials, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. Instead, the “usual gang of idiots,” as the staff has long called itself on the masthead, will fill the magazine’s pages with old material. A giddy creation of the staid 1950s, Mad hit a circulation peak of 2.8 million in 1973. Since then, it has steadily lost readers and relevance, a victim of its own success, as its skeptical, smart-alecky sensibility became dominant in American popular culture.
Back then, there were adults. Only today, perhaps, can anyone see the need for such a monolith of power and agreement. If you can't point an accusatory finger at the oppressor -- if, in short, "the oppressor is us" -- then what relevance is there in an embattled world of confusion and crankiness? When everyone's a smart aleck, being a smart aleck loses its allure and bite and camaraderie.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

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