More or Less Interested, Fear and Civic Duty, Etc.

If you half expect to don a gas mask at any moment, tips on fashion and beauty seem beside the point. This is reflected in a Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research poll that asked people whether they’ve become more or less interested in various kinds of magazine articles. Fashion/beauty coverage suffered the steepest drop, with the less-interested vote exceeding the more-interested by 12 percent. Also on the negative side: “people and personalities” (-6 percent), sports (-5 percent) and movies (-5 percent). Travel was down (-4 percent), but less than those other genres. As real travel becomes more daunting, armchair travel could pick up the slack. Meanwhile, the one big winner in the poll was news (+32 percent), with business/personal finance also on the plus side (+5 percent).

Keep a stiff upper lip these days and people will simply assume you’ve had a stroke. A Gallup poll asked Americans to say which of two views more closely matches their own in the aftermath of Sept. 11—”It is the duty of Americans not to show fear about the threat of terrorism” or “There is nothing wrong with showing fear about terrorism.” Thirty percent of men and 22 percent of women said it’s our duty to appear fearless, while 68 percent of men and 75 percent of women said there’s “nothing wrong” in exhibiting our fears.

When a society’s most common nutritional problem is that people eat too much, the phenomenon of hunger can seem unreal. An ad soliciting donations to a food bank can solve this problem by showing some hungry people. The catch is, a hungry person isn’t necessarily a likable person, any more than an unhungry person is. An ad for the Food Bank of Central New York (via MRA of Syracuse, N.Y.) is smart to enlist readers’ sympathy by focusing not on the people but on the basic foods they lack. By echoing the language of brand ads, it nudges us (instead of hectoring us) to compare our own lot with the straitened circumstances of a food-bank client.

One more reason to feel sympathy for the devil: In a poll by American Movie Classics’ Web site, he ran a poor third when people were asked which villain they’d choose if they had to dress as one for Halloween. Dracula topped the voting (34 percent), with Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein the runner-up (28 percent). The devil won 17 percent of the vote, with the Mummy (11 percent) and Werewolf (10 percent) lagging even farther behind.