Men’s magazines are tawdry little rags, full of the kind of half-literate nonsense you would expect a talented bunch of writers to have to dumb themselves down to in order to get their point across to their target audience (I’m not allowed to be overly critical, as I know someone who writes for Zoo and he’s alright, and I write for a magazine aimed at 14-year-olds). They are, not to put too fine a point on it, a great deal of shit.
But! Yes, I’m going down the but route (haha, like “butt”, like they would feature in a lads mag hahaha), but not for the reasons you may expect. I enjoyed reading some elements of FHM in my younger days – articles about the FBI sniper, for example, I still remember as they were genuinely very interesting. Loaded had Office Pest, which is the basis of a surprising amount of my humour, now I think about it. Zoo and Nuts didn’t exist then. Ah, better days.
But no – my defence is of one particular element: FHM’s captions. Whichever sub they had working on those things was a fucking genius. You could be bored of staring at Gail Porter’s arse, tire of whichever Danny Dyer of the day was taking up valuable page-space or simply not care about their surprising attitude towards male grooming (i.e. they actually gave a shit), but flicking through any issue you would be able to pick up dozens of captions per issue that were genuinely, guffaw-inducingly funny.
I have to write my own captions, and I try to be funny with them, but nothing for me has ever come close to some of the wonderfully observed, downright funny things written in FHM during ‘the past’. Subtleties in images would be picked up on and used as the basis of jokes you had to actually think about, inanimate objects would often be involved as characters in the image and they just made me laugh. Stop making me justify myself. Check out Zoo and Nuts these days to see pale, pale, pale imitations of the glory days. I’d say check FHM, but I have no idea what it’s like anymore.
So yes – well done, caption people of FHM’s past. You made me laugh. A lot.