Halfway through a recent plane trip, I looked around and realized I was surrounded by US Weekly magazines. The women in front of me and behind me were both reading US Weekly. The woman across from me was not only devouring the US Weekly in front of her, but also had a stack of Weekly wannabies on her lap, for when she finished her US but remained hungry for its goodness. “In Touch,” “OK!,” and “Style!” were their names, although clearly any word ending in an exclamation point would do. Sitting in my row was the most fascinating case. There was a woman asleep, with an US Weekly tucked in the seat pocket in front of her. Next to her was the husband, sitting, waiting, plotting his advance. When it seemed clear she was out cold, I watched this grown man slide his hand, delicately, carefully over to the US Weekly and slip it out of the pocket, certain not to make a sound. There are bank robbers who aren’t as careful as this guy was, performing his heist at 30,000 feet. Once he had the magazine in his hands, he read it greedily, then returned it to the pocket before his sleeping wife was ever the wiser. It was shameful, really. I think he would’ve been less embarrassed to read pornography in public than that US Weekly. But he had to have it. And judging by the rest of my flight, he was not alone.
We, as Americans, aren’t so great at making sensible decisions. We walk our cats on leashes. Only 65% of us vote, in the best of years. We’ve made Two and a Half Men our favorite TV show even though we know full well there are better things on. We’re so bad at making reasonable food choices that governments are trying to ban our access to large cups of soda. We’re children basically, with bigger bodies and more money to spend. I mean, we’ve somehow allowed Expendables 2 to be the most popular movie in the nation two weeks in a row. How could that happen? As a country, we can not be counted on to do anything that’s good for us. And that’s why we need US Weekly to get us back on track.
Think about it, everybody reads the damn thing. And they like it! They believe in it. Americans won’t eat their vegetables, but if those vegetables are partially obscured by a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow buying coffee in her Uggs, they’ve got a shot of going down. It’s the ultimate Trojan horse. Show us a photograph of some ex-President and we couldn’t care less, but if that President is taking out the garbage under the caption, “Stars Are Just Like Us!” then we will study that thing like it’s on the final exam. Earlier today I spent five minutes staring at a picture of Rob Lowe reading the newspaper. I don’t know why. It was in US Weekly. I do what it tells me to do. So how about we start using its powers for good instead of distraction?
I went through the current edition of US Weekly (No, you can’t borrow it yet. I’m not finished!) and found several features that can be filled with information that all of us should know. We’re not trying to make it boring, or academic, or intellectual, we’re just trying to use its powers of dispersal to our greater benefit. If we can read about celebrities and be encouraged to vote, wouldn’t that be nice? But it doesn’t have to be political. Why couldn’t we, next to “Fashion Police,” have a little section called “Logic Police?” There we can write things like “Don’t text a girl after 1 a.m. saying only ‘Hey. What u up to?’ She will know what you’re really asking. Actually, you know what? Don’t text her that ever.” Or simply, “Pick up your dog’s poop. Come on, it’s poop!” This needs to happen. Here are some other sections that could use revision.
“What’s in my Bag”: A regular US Weekly segment where a celebrity catalogues the items that can be found in their purse. Minus the blow and the crumpled-up Macauley Culkin phone number, of course. You wouldn’t even have to change this one that much, just slip a few useful things in the famous person’s satchel. Like a book called “The Girl Who Went to Jail Because She Didn’t Do Her Taxes, Which Could Totally Happen To You!” Or a new set of earbuds in a package labeled, “Headphones: You Have To Wear Them. When Did it Become OK to Publicly Listen to Music Without Headphones? Don’t be a Dick.” Or just deodorant. Lots and lots of deodorant. Hopefully everyone will get the message.
“Baby Love”: It’s just pictures of hot women and their kids. What a waste! We already know what Jennifer Garner looks like, and her kids’ faces are a lot like everyone else’s kids’ faces, so this section is an easy edit. Instead of pictures, change the name to “Love Your Baby” and offer a few tid-bits of handy parenting advice. Like… ”If you Love Your Baby, don’t bring them to a horror movie at 11 p.m. If you do, please don’t sit next to me.” And “Love Your Baby by teaching them early about quality sitcoms. New Girl, yes. Big Bang Theory, no.”
“Who Wore it Best”: An US Weekly classic, where they compare two stars wearing the same outfit, and readers vote on who looks better. Don’t fucking touch this one. It’s perfect the way it is. I don’t care about the greater good, I need Who Wore It Best in my week.
“Love Lives”: Pictures of celebrities who are dating. Not terribly imaginative, I know. This one is another easy fix. Keep the photos, and just add some helpful little captions, like, “You Know How Scarlett Johansson and Nate stay together? By not looking through each other’s email accounts to see if they’re still emailing their exes. Consider that!” Or “George Clooney is dating Stacey Kiebler, who’s almost half his age. And he’s a liberal. I guess chicks dig liberals? Try it out and see!”
And there are so many more. “Hot Pics.” “Loose Talk.” “Us Musts.” They basically write themselves. So what do you think? Can we change the world one US Weekly at a time?