The proof? The anti-magazine magazine. Even Roland Barthes didn't dream this one up. Two penniless twentysomethings have put the postmodern spin on the Nineties magazine phenomenon by producing their own subversive insert you may find dropping out of your favourite glossy.
The first target of magazine terrorists Matt Worley, a 26-year-old student writing a Phd on the British Communist Party, and Scott King, 27, a disillusioned graphic designer from Yorkshire, was laddism.
"Middle class 'Lad Culture' is the enemy and the only response is to reverse the terror."
So, last March, a strange day-glo pink leaflet the size of a newspaper, CRASH (Creating Resistance To Society's Haemorrhoids), which appeared in London pubs and art galleries, slipped into men's magazines and in the mailboxes of random media targets proclaiming 'Death to Chris Evans' and 'David Baddiel is the Rent Boy of the Bourgeoisie'.
This month, 5,000 readers of the alternative lifestyle magazine Dazed and Confused have been treated to more of the same invective, this time folded as a smaller insert into the magazine, and targeting Nineties British culture and all its icons - Noel and Liam Gallagher, Ginger Spice, Naomi Campbell.
Worley and King were introduced by a friend who noticed they shared obscure obsessions in the way of "the dadaists, situationists and punk" and the pair decided to take on mainstream culture. "We wanted to produce an anti- magazine magazine," says Worley. "Scott had been the art director at ID magazine and he perceived it was time for a magazine that was more challenging than ID, a way of questioning perceived ideas or conceptions in an interesting and artistic way."
Worley and King decided to call the project CRASH in homage to the controversy started by the JG Ballard book and film of the same name about amputee sex in the wreckage of car crashes. Initially conceived, says King, to be "a thorn in the side of other magazines", the duo are now intending to go multimedia, with everything from installations to live recordings planned.
The first issue, which cost pounds 1,000 to produce (pounds 1 per copy) was co-funded by a secret sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous. Its target was lad culture, in particular Loaded magazine. "Flick through the bastions of New Laddishness (you know the magazines)," wrote Worley, "The 'Lad' becomes a clone...This is how you should be. The question is who gains from all this? The answer is IPC [publishers of Loaded, Maxim and Men's Health] and the middle-class graduates who write the stuff (and enjoy the freebies)."
The magazine identified the worst offenders as Chris Evans, comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, Men Behaving Badly's Martin Clunes, DJ Chris Tarrant, Sun columnist Garry Bushell, pop stars Morrissey and Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds, They Think It's All Over's Nick Hancock and Fever Pitch author Nick Hornby.
"We had an amazing response," says Worley. "We would go round giving it out in pubs, because that was where we wanted people to talk about CRASH and people would say, 'yes you're right' or they would argue with us and we'd have really interesting conversations. Apparently David Baddiel got a bit upset, but otherwise we haven't had any adverse reactions."
Both issues of CRASH are provocatively libellous, but the pair make light of the consequences. "I'm not sure what happens when people try to sue you and you haven't got any money," says King. "Maybe you get sent back to Yorkshire. Anyway, we haven't got any money."
Issue two was inserted into 5,000 copies of Dazed and Confused with the magazine's permission, even though the anti-culture message was a joke on them. "The magazine is itself as much of a target," says Worley, "but it's up to readers to make up their own minds." The concept behind "Britstop", issue two's title, was that "people think things are good just because they are British - and they aren't."
Possible plans for the future include releasing a record with underground band Earl Brutus and an installation which "would be our version of the Cultural Revolution - picking on people who deserve to be targeted, like It Girl Tamara Beckwith, printing their photograph and listing their crimes against culture".
"Deface the Portrait Gallery," writes Worley in the Britstop issue. "Burn down the Astoria and wash the Kensington streets with the blood of our cultural landlord. Renewal or lobotomy - there is nothing to lose but boredom."Reuse content