Monday, February 19, 2007

Monocle: The carbonistas are watching

The exotic dessert of international magazine publishing and Wallpaper* founder, Tyler Brule, has produced the first edition of his new monthly publication, Monocle; its title an unintentional anagram of “cool men.”

It describes itself as “a briefing on global affairs, business, culture & design,” and is aimed at ever-mobile sophisticates who shop and drop in different time zones. It "speaks to consumers who are locals no matter where they land - they live on long-haul carriers, have multiple residences, cross borders daily and crave a world-view rather than a domestic rendition…."

It boasts no celebrities … ah, promises, promises.

Monocle actually features a few celebrities but has them confined to their natural place – to the ads. There’s pretty Jonathan Rhys Meyers showing-off Versace; there’s John Travolta in his pilot clobber whoring himself for Breitling; oh, and there’s Kylie’s ex Olivier Martinez flogging Yves Saint-Laurent’s Sheer Magnetism.

The ads sell top-end glamour in a magazine that is decidedly anti-glamour: so much so that it may yet become a totem for a dullist movement in journalism whose daily is the Independent. Why, even some writers are only identified by initials just in case the glamour of their names sullies the ambient nunnishness. The writing is uniformly flat - as flat as most of the pages are matt - as if translated from many different languages: Monocle’s chief triumph is to rob internationalism of any residual glitz, though the EC, the UN and Conde Nast Traveller may also take some credit.

If an interview with Chile’s Andres Velasco or a profile of a Northumberland bookshop or a history of anti-freeze (did I just make that up?) or Tyler Brule’s (full name) Q&A with the boss of Lego is what hardens your tits then Monocle is for you.

Which is not to say that Monocle won’t do a roaring trade. I long ago concluded that I have little affinity with the wealthy Brules of this world who enjoy a literalist-fetishistic relationship with inanimate things. But I’d fight for their right to exist. It’s just Monocle wasn’t designed for me.

But Brule may want to take note of a burgeoning group I call the carbonistas – the moral crusaders who measure and monitor our carbon emission footprints as a reproach. Monocle better beware. Not only does it seek to profit from the strato-gypsies who smear our skies with contrails, but it doesn’t think twice about unleashing 20 writers, photographers, et al on one story: this is carbon indulgence. The carbon-finder generals are watching.

Has Monocle arrived just as the world tentatively starts to question the wisdom of rampant, promiscuous travel and its by-product “sophistication”? Monocle’s success or failure may yet be one of the measures of how seriously we take global warming – if readers don’t fall asleep first.


Duralex said...

Anxious to redeem yourself, Arcati ? Whatever, I'm not going to quibble, this is a good... ah, sh*t, what's the english equivalent for "billet d'humeur" ? Satirical and witty without slandering anybody (or did I miss something ?).
As you said elsewhere : "Knowing your audience is axiomatic". C'est le m├ętier qui rentre – i.e. you're learning the trade... :-)

Arcati said...

Redemption is not something I seek: I like the thought of Hades' flame - but I'd rather not choke to death on my way.

But thank you for your generous response.

duralex said...

It's not generous, the very idea ! Just objective (well, I hope so). :-)