One of the most enduring long-term relationships in my life is over. I've said goodbye to Maxim magazine, ignoring its desperate pleas to get me to renew after 10 years of nearly uninterrupted service (save for a few months in '05 when canceled my subscription in protest of an editorial decision).
As always is the case with these types of things, it was over long before it was officially over. For at least the past year I dreaded the magazine's arrival and glumly trudged through its ad-dominated pages, seeking some sign of life that would get me to ante up again. A far cry from my college days in which my heart bounced with anticipation whenever I noticed the mail attendant had forgotten to steal it from my box.
Although I did notice an uptick in quality level in the past three issues under the new editor, it wasn't enough to get me to part with $10 to see where the next 12 issues would take me.
Part of me wonders whether I'm quitting because I've become too old for the magazine, as was definitely the case with MAD in my early 20s. But realistically I think I'm no more mature at 29 (only 40 days of my 20s left...) than I was at 22 - just broken by life and burdened with more responsibilities. I'm more inclined to believe that Maxim and I have just grown apart.
There's no delicate way to put this - Maxim has transformed into a woman's magazine. Sure, there are still the shameless pictorials of the pop tart of the month. But Maxim is now no more racy or daring than your average issue of Cosmopolitan. And its contents are basically Cosmo as well. Crammed with fashion advice, weight loss tips, ads with bare-chested men sprawled on the beach and lately, recipes (Yes, recipes. If I were a more judicious writer I could have encapsulated this post in just that one word), Maxim seems fabricated for women and metrosexuals.
On the other hand, Maxim's desperately racy covers belie its tame contents. I've never been able to bring the magazine along to pass dead time at waiting rooms or before screenings because it made me look like I was reading porn. Nor could I leave it on the coffee table when "adult" guests were over. I've had to hide it under the bed most of the time as a 17-year-old would a Penthouse.
Despite these obstacles I persevered for many years, with Maxim my dirty little secret that got littler but no dirtier. Here are my other problems with the rag:
-Female pandering. Maxim should be a he-man boy's club, not some equivocating, politically correct sellout. I long for the good-natured, tongue-in-cheek cavemanlike copy.
-No video game coverage and very little attention to sports and cars. You used to at least give gaming half-assed coverage, with blurb reviews penned by people who no doubt never played the games, but at least it was something. Now you've abandoned one of my favorite hobbies altogether. Its pathetic sports season previews are so inane they're actually worse than nothing. The gearhead stuff has also fallen by the wayside in favor of top five lists and soft-hitting investigative pieces.
-That fashion section. Why do I need to stock my wardrobe with shirts that aren't shot out of cannons? Why would I spend more than $50 on shoes, ever? Why would I care what matches with what, or what other people will be wearing so I can go out and get the same thing?
-The same old sex advice stories, over and over and over again. Foreplay and shallow thrusts, I know, I know, I know.
The bottom line is Maxim used to make fun of the femininity and out-of-touch sensibilities of GQ, and now it's become another GQ.
It took the sage advice of my 1-year-old son to thoroughly drive home Maxim's shortcomings. He calls all publications "books" and whenever he catches me reading a "book" with pictures asks me to find certain things for him. Anyway, he grabbed my Maxim and asked "basketball?" I shook my head. "Car? Truck?" No and no. He threw it down and walked away. Took me 10 years to get to that point.
So farewell, Maxim. We'll stay friends, meaning I never want to see you again.