Ever wondered what Seventeen would look like if it were written by right-wing flacks?
Well, there’s a new quarterly slick in town that aims to answer that very question, The Conservative Teen (Tagline: “Fostering Conservative Values: Countering Liberal Bias”).
Even though most of the magazine’s contributors haven’t been members of its target demographic since Alice Cooper charted or Jimmy Carter was president, they shouldn’t have trouble connecting with today’s young people, being credentialed from such sterling bastions of youthful intellectual vivaciousness as The Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, and Media Research Center. Young people like things like “culture” and “media” right?
Publisher William R Smith writes,
“Do you have a teenage child or grandchild? Are you concerned about their future and the kind of America they will inherit? The liberal agenda has long dominated our educational institutions, news media, and entertainment industries and so it’s imperative we counter by teaching our teen children conservative values. For just $19.95, your teen can receive 4 quarterly issues of The Conservative Teen. Written by industry professionals and leading academic experts, this unique publication is full of high-quality content emphasizing the full spectrum of conservative principles.
Our goal at The Conservative Teen is to foster the next generation of conservatives. A subscription to our magazine will ensure your teen builds honorable moral character and an in-depth understanding of all issues from the conservative perspective.”
Woe betide ye, Millenials! Your depravity and moral rootlessness hath offended the Almighty and imperiled the American way of life! Turn away from your blogs and your cable TV! Lay waste to your RSS readers and sow conservative media commentary in its barren furrows! Smite the deceivers! Forget the lamestream news, what you really need is an article about “How to Draw Obama,” and “Ronald Reagan: Our First Black President.”
This is the wrong way to introduce conservatism to young people, and marketing the magazine to parents to purchase for their children to read, as Smith did in the publisher’s letter, is the wrong approach to take in a world where the media business requires ever-greater levels of interaction with your readers. Most of the viewable articles are trash, but the cover story, “Welcome to the Debt-Paying Generation” is worth noting (though you have to subscribe to actually get the story). Veronique de Rugy has written recently about the wealth transfer from young to old via federal entitlements. There is thus a strong emotional appeal to young people based on conservative principles, to which Smith is hip, no doubt. That’s a good thing for conservatism, though the argument must be made carefully and in a way that doesn’t encourage resentment towards the elderly.
Altogether, the magazine suffers from the lack of respect it shows its audience. Smith doesn’t see them seeking out the magazine themselves anyway, so why engage them on their own level, why challenge them, or deal with, say, George W. Bush’s eight years of dragging conservatism through the mud? If Mom’s cutting the checks, who cares if Junior enjoys the magazine? I call this the Highlights model.
A representative quote: “There are a couple of lessons we can glean from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Fellowship who banded together for a quest to save Middle Earth. First, while the fellowship was small, they were not alone. And while you might feel alone sometimes, in a school filled with kids who will mock you for avoiding under-age drinking and premarital sex and an ‘anything goes’ lifestyle, you’re not. The conservative movement is much bigger than polling shows, as the rise of the Tea Party clearly illustrates.”
Also, I’m hesitant to include this, but who is William R. Smith? Is he the same William R. Smith as this mystery truck driver-turned-Democratic congressional candidate?