media & technology
Clever pop culture mag MODERN REVIEW folded in 1995. Now it's back under new editor Charlotte Raven,
and it's smarter than ever before.
Words: Deirdre Molloy
Picture the scene if you will: from the ashes of the Modern Review mark one — the ironic journal of pop culture that ate itself in 1995 - emerges its successor. At the helm as editor is Charlotte Raven — former Guardian columnist. just turned 28. Behind her is the original guerrilla pop critic. Julie Burchill — former eo-editor with the dearly-departed Toby Young and now editor-in-chief. mentor to Raven. and the voice (circa 1979) ofexpenence.
Reinvented as an intelligent antidote to the sex and shopping titles swamping British shelves. and aimed squarely at the 18—35 market. Modern Review will offer cultural analysis. investigative scoops and film. music. fashion and book reviews in one crisp matt-ﬁnish package.
‘The magazine that I want to read doesn’t exist.’ says Raven of the relaunch. ‘For my generation the New Statesman is too boring and hanging on the coat- tails of Tony Blair. and I’m too intelligent to be satisfied with women’s magazines or Arena or Loaded. We’re not politically aligned but what we’ve got is a critical sensibility that aims to interrogate everything.’
Lofty ambitions aside. the magazine boasts enough high profile contributors — NME’s lan Penman. Suzanne Moore. The Guardian’s Nick Lezard and The Observer’s Nick Cohen — to intrigue a young audience hungry for controversy and ideas.
‘Controversy is one of those things that everybody wants but very few people are able to deliver.‘ reckons Raven. ‘lt’s like people who say they’ve got a sense of humour and they’re not funny. Controversy is something that happens by accident if you’ve got a world-view and a reason for talking about things.’
Raven is disparaging of what passes for politics today. ‘Of late. issue culture has stood in for proper political debate.’ she says. ‘Look at something like fox-hunting. which is basically a sixth-form debate that everyone got so excited about.‘
Millennial angst and the slogan ‘personal is political’ get equally short shrift. ‘Because people have detached their fears from politics. they think
'l think the lad thing has come to an impasse, it's lost its sense of humour and people are waiting for the next thing.’
Charlotte Raven, editor, Modern Review
Charlotte Raven, editor of the new-look Modem Review: ‘I'm too intelligent to be satisfied with women's magazines'
feeling anxious has something to do with the date.’ says Raven. ‘We’re trying to demystify the process. It just takes people to analyse it properly.’
If mediocrity and consensus are the sworn enemies. what will Modern Review champion? During her stints as a freelance writer for The Observer and The Guardian. Raven defended true love. Ecstacy and combat trousers (OK. I made the last one up). Now she clams up. The contents of the first issue are top secret until it hits the shelves later this month. When pressed. she reveals that ‘Julie [Birchill] has written a piece on abortion. in her own inimitable style. that should rufﬂe a few feathers.’
Given the simultaneous launch of Frank (from the same stable as Arena and The Face). an upscale. glossy magazine for women fed up with the Cosmo diet of orgasms and cellulite. you could hype up a renaissance of girl-powered British intellect.
Raven’s rejoinder is more down-to-earth. ‘I think the lad thing has come to an impasse.‘ she insists. ‘it’s lost its sense of humour and people are waiting for the next thing. Of course. I hope the next thing will be something that addresses this problem of dumbing down. It’s a false dichotomy to say that something’s either funny or intelligent.’ Mark her words.
Issue one of Modern Review goes on sale later this month, priced £2.95.
Games oWeb Sites 0CD ROMS
Formula 1 97 (PlayStation/PC CD-ROM £39.99)
Formula I was a high-revving monster of a success when it first came out. Now, somewhat late in the season, as had a complete overhaul, rejo.ning the track at last with 1997 teams and drivers. The graphics are sharper, the arcade mode is more dramatic, weather conditions vary and Martin Brundle joms Murray Walker in the commentary box. Thankfully, a Split screen two-player mode has also been included. Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher requested copies of the original because of the accuracy of the tracks, and no true petrolhead will want to miss the latest instalment.
Ministry of Sound
To celebrate the launch of its fourth Dance Nat/on album, the monstrous Ministry is giving away what it describes as a virtual 'club chick’ and screen saver, A pet on your desktop is clearly old hat, but this stereotypical raver will dance around your windows till she drives you insane. Although limited in her abilities, she does perhaps herald a more ominous development. Will we soon be buying virtual friends instead of pets, consoling them over broken cyber- relationships and looking after their emotional well-being? It can’t be long before companies drag still reticent young girls to the screen to change corrupted digital nappies
REVIEWER THIS ISSUE: John Henderson
Electric Thistle update
The List’s online guide to events throughout Scotland is available at http://inout.uk.msn.com. Highlights of the next two episodes:—
UNTIL 16 SEPTEMBER
Eve Arnold In Retrospect (Edinburgh)
The world-famous photographer dis- cusses Marilyn Monroe and Malcolm X. The Suicide (Touring)
Communicado bring the classic Stalinist satire back to life.
The Streetrave 8th Birthday Party (Glasgow)
Colours at The Tunnel, wuth Brandon Block and other guest DJs. International Country Music Festival (Isle Of Bute)
One for both tourists and purists.
12 Sep—ZS Sep 1997 THE LIST 93