It used to be my favorite magazine. It was the one I first subscribed to when I landed a real job after college.* It had rock-and roll stars on its covers, all the stuff that mattered to outlaw me—or the me who fell squarely into the demographic Rolling Stone targeted in the ’70s and ’80s: outlaws in their own imaginations who thought rock music mattered.
The thing is, rock-and-roll doesn’t matter—does it? Or at least not in the way RS editors and blurbmeisters would still have us believe it does. Take this capsule in the Table of Contents for September 29, 2011:
“Of the 54 records covered in this issue’s fall music preview, Feist’s breakup opus Metals—the first from Toronto singer Leslie Feist in four years—is the most emotionally raw.”
Maybe it really is raw. But it’s the way this claim is made that gets to me, the indication that RS editors have superior expertise. It’s that know-it-all, music-critic voice—the one I’m really sick of.
When I bought that recent issue at the checkout line (in Whole Foods, natch), I thought I’d dive into it right away. It had Jon Stewart on the cover. It blurbed the “Ten Things Obama Must Do.” It billed itself as the “special television issue,” with a cover headline about “How David Letterman Reinvented TV,” a sure sign I’m part of the generation RS targets.
But it also had The Voice. Oh, God, not that! Sometimes pandering, it’s cooler than thou, in charge. Here’s what it says about reviews of Fall TV shows: “Rolling Stone‘s TV critic watched every new series—so you don’t have to.”