Progressive-outdated: How an age/wealth-appropriate cringey ad in The Walrus set me off


While the latest issue of The Walrus features magnificent writing and progressive treatments on ideas of gender evolution and renting vs home ownership, as well as essential reading on Indigenous education and mass graves, for me — The Walrus can’t hide its smug wrapper. It feels like CBC Radio in print, by and for privileged educated people. And — this ad below for Zoomer radio says it all.

“Zoomer” – likely a play on Boomer? If not, must be, given the outdated humour… and silly “safe” usurping of the man’s role. In the ad of “The Evolution of Morning Radio – witness the DECLINE of the Morning Men and the RISE of the SISTERS OF SUNRISE,” male radio hosts are portrayed atop the one-page ad in an evolutionary line of child apes through to old white looking man (based on physiognomy) to decline. Perhaps it’s meant to be cheeky — for white suburban women with two SUVs, home equity, inheritance, RRSPs, you get the picture.

The cringe factor is amplified by the contrast here of at once ditching the men for what they stood for all the while embracing the parallel Universe for the cooler contingent of the menopausal bracket. All I see is a replacement of one conventional standard — white men — for the white female replica:

– large gold and diamond rocks of wedding bands
– dyed hair
– “safe” nice ‘age-appropriate’ clothing
– Boho-chic tinge
– calm jewelry
– manicured nails
– polished teeth

I guess I want my progressive ideas and sound journalism served in a more evolved container that parallels the forward-thinking arguments and hot topics. That’s not to say a magazine EVIDENTLY sustained and financed by a whack of rich people underlines the value of the discussions — it just feels trite that its ‘executive’ or ownership or “community” optically/superficially may exclude, on perception, many of the very people these articles are talking about.

In pages and pages at the back of the magazine are listed the names of donors, and therefore: influencers — “Visionary Donors,” “Champion Donors,” Ambassador Donors…” Why?

Smug love-in? Incestuous circle jerk of the highly cultured provisioners of Canadian content?

How about:

– Affluent as fuck donors
– Obscenely wealthy donors
– Politically connected and old-money donors
– Donors who definitely live in Rockliffe and Westmount
– Donors who want to be like the above

…the list goes on.

I’m not blind to the make-up of the mag. Fuck me, the Chair of the Board of Directors is Jodi Butts. I get it. But it’s a bit like what old-school New Yorkers say of their city, populated by wealthy giants — all the rich people living in a New York City for the dream it WAS as created by POOR artists living in squats and infested flats. A nod to Nan Goldin’s documentary, “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” where she exposes how industries that support artists are in many cases ironically and creepily the ones crutching them by addictions to pharmaceuticals that contribute both to their wild states of creation yes but inevitably to their decline.

So in the same way — by seeing this bloody stupid ad for which I need a sense of humour and to “Chill, Hill,” sure — in the same way, I’m crutched/dependent on the rich/conventional/standard well-off, wealthy and educated “society” without whom there wouldn’t be that article about how in Berlin, “85 percent of residents rent” and that “Canada suffers from a ‘cult of home ownership,’ created by the government, banks, realtors, family, co-workers, and friends.'” Or, how “embarking on a gender transition is no different from any other major life decision, such as engaging in a serious romantic relationship, moving to a different country, or buying real estate. There will likely be benefits but also potential regrets.”

But that ad. It irks me so because I know when I pick up The Walrus what it is, how it’s built, who it’s for — yet I try to keep my own insecurities of growing up poor in Vanier (Ottawa) with a single mother but watching a powerful Rolex/Harry Rosen/Mont Blanc/Volvo father with sociopathic tendencies toward women take on the bloody world one powerful stance at a time… at bay.

I want to love The Walrus and think it’s cool. I want to believe in it in the same way I’ve tried to believe the health-food ads in health magazines are really about good food and not served up solely by an opportunistic bent to make money off people who dig granola and a healthy bowel movement. With The Walrus, I want to fit in! And most of all — I want to believe in my print-edition subscription and carry it around with me WITH PRIDE on the tube like back in the days where folding the New York Times within the confined space of your seat was like origami conversion in real time to your underarm as a pure art. I want my mag to be an event I’m a part of, not something that sets me apart because of its well-off sponsors and subsequent endorsement of shit ads like for Zoomer radio.

I’m reminded of how my Dad and his wife purchased space or a plaque on a seat, I think, in some Mississauga Arts Centre. How his wife is now a “fine artist.” These are people who shat all over NOW! Magazine; denounced alternative music and people as freaks; you get the idea… Arts by proxy through their wealthy contributions to plaques and art courses funded by wealthy retirement. Yuck.

But as my first Muse Oli said, “Do we all have to be down and out” these days to create?

Does Walrus have to print stupid ads like this that reinforce their reflex and essence — seemingly old, established, rich people sometimes kind of out of touch despite their amazing journalists?

But maybe it’s diversity in action?! Given the high-brow financiers backing the thing, and the excellent intelligent scope of well-written articles, perhaps including a shite ad for what seems to be a mainstream radio station shows how they’re willing to mix it up a bit. Nahh…

And before you ask, “what’s up with her? Is she on the rag?!!” well, I’m ovulating. And at 49 years old after a lifetime of navigating bleeding and menstrual migraines with work and life, and now praying for menopause, perhaps the Zoomer chicks scare me into my inevitable reality that in order to stay relevant, I need to be married with a ring; mask my age; and roar.

Maybe this wasn’t about The Walrus or the ad at all. Opinions shield, criticism reveals.

I’ll probably renew my subscription after all.