Long ago, Esquire used to publish articles celebrating masculinity and male interests, including contributors like Ernest Hemingway. The quality of those 1930s and ’40s issues was such that people now collect them.
Today, Esquire is an excruciatingly irritating voice of metrosexual soyboy hysteria endlessly denouncing Trump and grovelling apologetically on behalf of all mankind before the idols of politically correct wokeness.
Brian Patrick Eha notes that the same thing is happening today across the entire men’s lifestyle magazine genre and subscriptions are everywhere precipitously declining.
When the culture changes,â€ Esquire contributing editor Wesley Yang wrote earlier this year, â€œeach of us must either seek an accommodation or choose a hill to die on.â€ He was reviewing Bret Easton Ellisâ€™s White, a collection of jeremiads, many aimed, like poison darts, at millennials, the cohort Ellis has dubbed â€œGeneration Wuss.â€ The voice of an earlier generation, Ellis, who is gay, finds himself shocked byâ€”and contemptuous ofâ€”the weak-mindedness and quickness to take offense typical of some millennials. …
In June, Hearst promoted Esquire.com editor Michael Sebastian to replace Fielden as editor-in-chief. As with Pels at Cosmopolitan, the idea is to bring a digital sensibility to the print productâ€”while making digital the top priority. Esquire, a source told WWD, will be getting â€œa full Cosmo.â€ I take this to mean that the trends identified in this essay will only accelerate, and that the commitment to social-justice ideology will only harden; that Esquire will soon descend into the sucking morass of what Yang aptly calls â€œwoke clickbait.â€ No doubt the magazine will struggle on for a time, like a punctured blimp leaking helium, deflating while still aloft, but if it grows in prominenceâ€”if the metrics that men like Troy Young care about improve for a timeâ€”it will be only as a wounded airship, once high up in the atmosphere, grows larger in the eye as it sinks slowly groundward.
Just as one canâ€™t reinflate a leaky blimp, there is little reason to believe that Esquireâ€™s editorial quality will improve under Sebastian, however much he juices web traffic. The great menâ€™s magazines may eke out a lucrative afterlife hawking clothes and branding nightclubs in India; but as magazines, they are dying or deadâ€”and the dead do not improve.