#111 – Zoo Weekly

23 03 2010

For decades, female bogans have happily purchased lifestyle magazines. These publications gave the 1950s housewife new recipes, new things to knit, and new ways to grip the shaft of a feather duster. By the 1970s, these magazines had started to change, with an increase in articles about TV shows and movie stars. By the 1990s, the race to the bottom had reached fever pitch, with illicit affairs, and celebrity cover-ups competing for the female bogan’s dwindling attention span. In the mid 90s, the publishers observed that all they were providing to the female bogan was smut, scandal, and sex tips. “May I suggest that male bogans want these things too”, said one junior publishing executive, observing the convergence of bogan genders.

Ralph, part of the Kerry Packer bogan harvesting empire, arrived on the scene in 1997. They featured scantily clad women on the front, and enough sport and smut to convince some of the more progressive male bogans to stop buying People/Picture magazine (both Packer enterprises). The other benefit of Ralph  for the male bogan, was that each edition contained a smattering of health/lifestyle articles that the male bogan would never read. These articles made the magazine technically not porn, and female bogan spouses found it more difficult to object to the magazine’s presence in the toilet at casa de bogan.

This uneasy truce continued until 2006, when the ultimate bogan male publication appeared on shelves. Zoo Weekly does away with any health and wellbeing content, replacing it with additional scantily clad women, and some more articles that valiantly attempt to classify Lara Bingle photo shoots as AFL/cricket news. The magazine has a team of female sex advice columnists dubbed “The Threesome”, which appeals to the male bogan’s desire for x-treme group sex (but with no other blokes, because that’d be gay). It even contains former Big Brother contestants as columnists, along with classic bogan beer pit David Boon. None of these columns are more than 200 words in length, due the bogan’s preference for bright colours and silicone breasts over letters and numbers. The Packer empire forked out $94 million in 2007 to acquire Zoo Weekly and tap into this pulsating new vein of boganity. Also included in the deal was the acquisition of Ralph rival FHM.

Zoo Weekly’s publisher pitches its bogan audience to advertisers  as “living for the next party, the next gadget, and the next girl”, a summary that compelled the bogan’s girlfriend to start a loud argument about the ongoing presence of the magazine in its house. Initially, the male bogan conceded. For the next few weeks, the bogan male purchased Ralph, and tried to convince itself that the volume of tits in there was adequate. Its relationship improved, with the female bogan seeming oddly grateful that Ralph was around, the very publication that it decried only a decade earlier. In March 2010, she sent her man down to 7-Eleven to purchase a Diet Coke to pair with her bag of lollies. At the drinks fridge, the male bogan spied the promotional placard that would lead to its undoing: “500ml can of Mother and copy of Zoo Weekly for only $6!”. His relationship was doomed.