Well, you’re my Venus, but you’re not my fire

May 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

The moment the latest issue* of VenusZine landed in my hands, I knew something was not quite right. And indeed, I have the power of the Oracle through sight and touch – the cover looked different, and damn, I thought… it feels different too.

And what do you know? The previous owners of VenusZine have upped and left us desolate, and a new team has taken over. Publisher Sarah Beardsley, owner of Venus Holdings, writes us a tepid note telling us how she’s “always been a passionate advocate for other women.” Great, but I thought this is a fun, smart, out-of-the-mainstream magazine I’m reading. But forgive me, I was wrong, clearly we’re at a leadership seminar.

I know that VenusZine is probably aimed at the BUST demographic – meaning, women largely aged 12 – 25. However, I’ve always enjoyed reading it. Compared to BUST, to which I still subscribe but which in the last few years has become a rather mainstream glossy mag for “subversive” women (pictures of vibrators towards the last few pages, obligatory masturbatory reading), VenusZine had a DIY-aesthetic that appealed to me. As it should have, since it literally began as Amy Schroeder’s stapled and collated zine from her college dorm room. I loved that its focus was resolutely diverse and varied, and not just a few pages of fluffy cool reading for the endlessly vegan-baking and knitting hipster set.

But now! Now clearly VenusZine is targeting a much younger demographic. Like, the Harry Potter demographic? The ridiculously large typeface adorning every page is both plain damned ugly and very suitable for a young girl who’s just learning to read chapter novels. Your grandma might also appreciate it.

A cover story, titled “The Babysitters Club is Back” is revealed to be a “feature” story that features… four questions with the creator of the series. Yup, count ‘em… four. The book reviews are pathetic. While the former VenusZine had about 3 – 4 pages covered in its ‘Reads’ section, the typeface was tiny – and I loved it. Pages were dense with information. Text wriggled for space next to the pictures. There was so much to read! So, so much!

Now, there are big white spaces big enough for you to colour in with your sparkly Crayolas or whatever. Strangely enough, the Art Director, Denise Gibson, seems to be the only member of the original Venus team who has stayed on – and yet she has allowed for this travesty of large type and chunks of white space hideousness to happen.

But the thing that irked me the most is the crappy writing. The Babysitters Club story is blah, the reviews are meh (the books chosen for review were… I just… what?!?), and there is a new section called ‘Verve’, which actually features a blurb titled “5 Gal-friendly Apps”. There’s a line in there somewhere that goes, “Here are our top picks for chicks.”

It’s been awhile since I was a “gal”, and I doubt I ever was a “chick”, so I’m sorry to say… you lost me there, VenusZine.

*Not so much the latest, as it turns out. It’s the Spring 2010 issue, while the Summer 2010 issue has already come out in the States.

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