Our Take —
Vanity Teen is one of the most pretentious magazines around. And so it should be. Adolescence is, after all, a time for experimenting with social identities; trying to find a place in the world. With a name like Vanity Teen, it’s not as if this title could be accused of misleading us as to its potential intentions. The self-referential narcissism of youth is its reason for getting out of bed in the morning.
Enclaves of naïve youths may throw bricks at the screen upon reading such blunt words about a magazine aimed at them –and within which many of them probably dream about appearing- but it’s hardly a hidden reality that the patronizing old people should deny, going along with it like some Emperor’s New Clothes narrative.
Youth is sexy. Youth sells and, more importantly, youth buys. But, in all honesty, it is often difficult to work out exactly at whom this title is aimed. Is it actually at the youth audience that one might automatically assume from the title? Or is it at lecherous old voyeurs of both genders, eager to mainline that elixir in the form of fresh faces and fresh blood? The truth is probably a bit of both.
In the case of the former target audience, the title should be congratulated on its stark and clear art direction and photography, clearly leaps and bounds ahead of the usual diet of kooky and trite imagery thrown at young people. And, even if the matter of the latter raises certain difficult questions, then it would be dishonest to dismiss the strength of what Toni Perez has developed. Whether Mr Perez is a young victim of the industrial-media complex or whether he, young but wily, has beaten them at their own game is the stuff of bar room debate that is entirely divorced from the clarity of vision this title offers. If you want to learn about contemporary creative youth –as a participant or consumer- Vantiy Teen is essential reading.