Cultural Dissonance

I’m struggling to figure out what this article in that magazine says about the direction our society is taking.

I fear that my ability to be stunned by things is starting to atrophy. There’s just too much insanity out there. You can only maintain a level of shock for so long before you either die or go numb.

But I have to admit that when I came across an article entitled, “Why Did Jeffrey Dahmer Take Polaroid Photos of His Victims? Here’s the Reason Behind It”, I did, at the bare minimum, a double take.

Not because of the subject matter. I am actually fascinated by all things serial killer. I’m enthralled by the inner workings of anyone who lives a life I could or would never live. Studying those who are the polar opposite of me is not some twisted way for me to relive or embrace trauma. It’s just that I enjoy learning how people tick. I know how I tick. It’s the rest of you who confuse the hell out of me.

No. What fried my circuits for a minute or two was the fact that this article came from, of all places, Good Housekeeping magazine. Would you give Jeffrey Dahmer the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval? I sure wouldn’t.

If you’ve ever been to a grocery store in your life, you’re familiar with Good Housekeeping. This monthly publication is usually displayed at the check out counter. You stare at it while trying to be patient when the customer ahead of you insists on a price check because the paper towels cost 10 cents more than they should. I’m always tempted to hand the person a dime and say, “Here. Now can we all get the hell out of here while we’re still young?”

Instead, I distract myself by the cover of Good Housekeeping, among others. I want to specify that it’s only the cover that I read. Until this Dahmer article, I’m fairly certain I’ve never read anything in Good Housekeeping in my life.

I’m sure it’s a dandy publication, and it has been around in a very cutthroat market since 1885, which is impressive. I just don’t think I match their target audience. It’s a magazine known for such articles as “Warm Up with Our Best Fall Soups”, and “200 Birthday Wishes to Send to Your Best Friend”, and “10 Best Moisturizers for Combination Skin that Really Work”.

While the thought of homemade soup sounds comforting to me, I know that I lack follow through with any recipe that has more than 5 ingredients. While I’ve considered several people my best friends throughout my life, none of them have ever reciprocated the feeling, so over-the-top birthday wishes would probably be awkward. And I don’t do cosmetics, and haven’t a clue what combination skin is. Combined with what, exactly?

“Women’s interests”, as per society’s definition, have never been high on my list of priorities. I don’t jump on the latest diet bandwagon, I don’t care about this, or any other season’s trends in fashion, because I’ve been called many things in my life, but fashionable isn’t one of those, and that doesn’t upset me at all. I don’t paint my nails or wear perfume or lust after cutlery. And housekeeping in general is something that I view as an unpleasant chore.

But according to Wikipedia, this magazine has featured articles by such notables as Betty Friedan, Somerset Maugham, Edna St. Vincent Millay, J.D. Salinger, Evelyn Waugh and Virginia Woolf. So maybe I’ve been giving this publication short shrift all this time. Nah. I’m too lazy to wade through all the woman-y stuff to get to the good stuff, so I’ll give it a pass.

But a piece about Jeffrey Dahmer? Really? I had to read that.

The article doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about this sick man. It’s a pretty basic read. I soon discovered that it was primarily written to promote Netflix’ latest blockbuster series, which is awkwardly titled Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.  

What’s going on, Good Housekeeping? Perhaps you’re trying to cast a wider net in terms of readership. I guess it worked. I read it. But if you dilute your brand too much, you run the risk of turning everyone off, because your “fall soups” will become bland. Tasteless, even. That’s never good. If you’re willing to go there, it must have a huge payoff for you.

Pairing Jeffrey Dahmer with Good Housekeeping is, at best, cultural dissonance. It strikes an odd tone. It’s jarring. And I’m struggling to figure out what this article in that magazine says about the direction our society is taking.

And then I figured it out. Good Housekeeping is owned by Hearst. Hearst in turn has a lot of TV stations. Several of them are CW stations. And… ta da! Netflix airs a lot of CW shows.

Follow the money, baby. Follow the money.

Oh, I’ll still watch the series, mind you. I’ll just feel really dirty afterward.

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

4 thoughts on “Cultural Dissonance

  1. My thought-ways resemble yours a lot, save that I’m not at all interested in serial killers. Nietzsche, abyss, etc. But Good Housekeeping magazine used to have a humor page, decades back. I lost interest when they dropped that. Just like I was ticked off when Reader’s Digest got rid of the Picturesque Speech page.
    I was so startled, like many others no doubt, when the Green River killer was finally run to ground in his workplace right in my town. I heard it on the radio at my own workplace.
    I’m glad I don’t have a tv. I spend too much time online, anyway…

  2. We do have quite a bit in common! When my mother would get reader’s digest I would go straight to “ways to enrich your word power”.
    But fear not. I’ll keep up to date on the serial killers so you don’t have to. 🙂
    And I went about a decade without a TV and liked it just fine. I certainly read more books. But now I’m married and I’m addicted by association.

  3. “By association”–I once stayed with some relatives for a month, and had no space of my own, and their @#$%^& idiot box about sucked my mind out thru my eyes, when I tried to read. I had to leave, and glad I did. Said relatives still have the tv, but I won’t go into all the other reasons I’m not close to them.

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