In media terms, the anticipation and hype-y buildup to Radar‘s latest incarnation (the third, if you’re scoring at home) has been like that of a rock album — albeit one whose lineup is as interchangeable as the studio it was recorded in. You could even say radaronline.com and the accompanying schadenfreude is like the rabid, forgive me, Radiohead or Coldplay (or, perhaps more accurately, Arctic Monkeys) fans who leak details and tracks of the album ahead of its street date. And then you have the magazine’s detractors oiling the hype machinery while purporting not to care.
And while we’re as weary as the next media blog about anything as consistently over-hyped — and sniped — as Maer Roshan‘s Radar, we’re compelled to give it a track-by-track review.
Shirtless Colin Farrell, “Toxic Bachelor #1,” kicks off Radar 3.0 in bed with the ubiquitous blond and emptied pack of Marlboros. Following up Radar‘s Ali/Esquire ripoff — featuring a shirtless Tom Cruise — we’re sensing a theme hairless and, like any men’s magazine, quasi-gay.
Catchy and clean, poppy and perverse, design was never Radar‘s downfall. It was the content — specifically, the need for a magazine targeting Spy‘s old niche in the blog (read: Gawker) era — that befell its false starts.
Here’s where the new new Radar really cooks: the features. A lukewarm list-y cover story on 70 “Toxic Bachelors” from all walks of Hollywood, SecondLife “hotties” and seemingly unnecessarily thorough update on Wesley Snipes do little to move the proverbial needle. But it’s the compelling mini-profile YouTube’s star “victims” and Kim Masters‘ sharply-honed exposé on how Jim Carrey‘s madness has exiled him in Hollywood that make up for its shortcomings like the service gem “Is Your Baby Gay?”
Socialites, like Tinsley Mortimer eating burgers and fries? Yes!
Magazines will tell you that the ads are as important to readers as the magazine itself, and Radar has aligned plenty of glossy regulars — Guess, Calvin Klein et al — alongside Showtime, IFC, Match.com, Patron tequila and an American Idol karaoke video game. But it was the creepy Marc Jacobs‘ Dakota Fanning spread that caught our eye.
Lists, 50 years of fake Radar covers (yawn) and a field guide to “Tweemos” — emo for fans of Belle & Sebastian fans. Eh, ah.
Radar hasn’t changed much since its hiatus. If anything, it has stayed firmly in place — unmoved by paradigm-shifts in the culture it mocks — even mind-numblingly so. But that would also seem to befit Roshan, who stubbornly has kept his hand in when he twice had a chance to fold. But this is what Maer paid for. If Radar’s collection of editorial talent was an afro-beat band, Maer Roshan is their Fela Kuti, directing the tireless horn section in a sweaty, endless riff.
It should be noted, however, that even the best Fela albums lasted, at most, four tracks. Maer’s on his third, and the dancers are getting tired.