The World According to Esquire

The October 2008 issue of Esquire, celebrating the magazine’s 75 years in print, is very special indeed.  For starters, it features the “world’s first E-Ink cover” (that is, if you’re holding one of the 100,000 copies of the special collector’s edition). The cover flashes gray and white and boldly proclaims that “The 21st Century Begins Now,” because, well, Esquire says so.

Although the cover is certainly eye-catching, it’s a bit bulky and amateurish, vaguely reminiscent of a grade-schooler’s science project or one of those annoying musical greeting cards. Perhaps the Esquire art department wanted to make those nerds at Wired jealous with their futuristic cover.  But at this point, the cover is merely a folksy prototype—a nod to the future of publishing.

However, it’s still pretty cool and it does stand out at the newsstand. A lot of people shelled out six bucks to get one. I feel sorry for subscribers, though. Their loyalty has gone unrewarded and they were sent an issue with a basic, black cover with “The 21st Century is Here” emblazoned across the front in predictable white lettering. That’s just not very nice (or very 21st century for that matter).

Behind the techie cover, is a lengthy feature about the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. Did I say people? I meant men. Sorry, ladies. Only nine women qualify as influential this century. None of whom is profiled in depth. Hilary Clinton doesn’t even get her own mention; she’s coupled with Bill. Oprah Winfrey gets about 50 words as compared to Rupert Murdoch’s four-page interview. It’s a men’s magazine, of course, but do all women have to disrobe to get equal coverage in Esquire?

To the magazine’s credit, the selection of movers and shakers is dominated by the “almost famous” as opposed to tried and true celebrities and top businessmen. Yes, Steve Jobs and George Clooney are listed, but there are also 19 foreign faces in the ranks of the top 75, the majority of whom I’ve never heard of: Ratan Tata, Chairman of India’s largest privately held company; Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai; Gao Xiqing, Chinese investor; Bjorn Lomborg, Danish political economist, among others. Oh, and Vladimir Putin.  Whoever is handling that guy’s PR is doing a bang-up job.  He’s bigger than Britney right now.

— Jennifer Davis



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