This month the Australian media landscape said farewell to one of its more polarising titles – Zoo Weekly. The news wasn’t met with shock. The lads’ mag had been struggling for some time with its circulation dropping by 27.9 per cent year-on-year. It’s fair to say the writing was well and truly on the wall.
A regular whipping boy for social commentators (whatever those are), Zoo’s weekly delivery of scantily clad girls from Queensland posing with motorbikes and holding fruit awkwardly, along with its unwavering commitment to crude headlines meant it was never going to be friends with everyone. Political correctness was definitely not its forte and neither did it need to be – its target market was young men after all.
In the end it was a petition launched to remove the title from Coles that saw the much maligned weekly heaped on the funeral pyre. Here it lies alongside Ralph (RIP), Australian FHM (RIP), and I’m sure they’re probably making room for Maxim in the not too distant future – awkward… Let’s face it, men don’t need magazines in their lives, they have internet connections and smart phones where they can bet on the footy, swipe left and right, all the while downing a schooner. So much for the myth about men and multitasking.
While I won’t lose sleep over the fall of another magazine, I was taken by the manner of its demise. The instigator of the Coles petition made the bold – in my view spurious – claim that Zoo encouraged a rape culture – a connection I can’t for the life of me make, but I’m sure the end result is music to the ears of blogging contributors everywhere.
In the 4.5 years I’ve worked in this industry I’ve had the opportunity to work with the guys at Zoo on several occasions. They were smart, accomplished writers who actually understood their audience – and they had a pie warmer in their office. And, shocking I know, if you got past the boobs from Brisbane – these guys were even capable of producing compelling, comprehensively researched feature articles – every week in fact. They even ran a spell check through the copy.
A win for its detractors and a loss for editorial independence, Zoo’s exit is just another step in the march towards the digitisation of everything. Let’s face it, if you’re not polarising you’re not making your mark – ask Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands. RIP Zoo.