GQ’s ’10 Essentials’ Hardly Essential

/ Jul 9, 2013

10Essentials

We ranked it:

C

What is it with lists and countdowns? From Casey Kasem’s velvety-voiced “AT40” to the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” (it’s classic, check it out) we as a curious culture are fascinated with odd groupings, ordinally numbered and centered on a theme that is marked by celebrity or absurdity. Translated: we love to know Paula Deen’s five favorite deep fried pickle recipes or the Jerry Springer’s top 10 DNA tests.

Enter Conde Nast, publisher of Glamour, Wired, Bon Appetit, The New Yorker, and Traveler. Print revenue is down, digital revenue is uncertain, so let’s take a shot at using video to kill the magazine star. And while we are at it, let’s have Nabisco put a cute 30-second pre-roll ad with each episode. As Conde Nast lights a fire under its video efforts, we find an assortment of clips, random episodes, and a growing handful of branded magazine outposts on YouTube. Stopping by the GQ Channel, being a list guy myself, I had to see how the iconic print magazine feature “10 Essentials” translated into video bits and bytes.

I find “10 Essentials” confusing, hence the mediocre grade. They sure look pretty, but after watching all 11 episodes over two seasons, I can’t quite figure out a prevailing theme. The print pub is about men’s style, and perhaps that was the intent with the video version, but it hits several clunkers along the way. Big Boi, he of Outkast fame, lists wrapping papers (not the kind for holiday gift giving) among his essentials; documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has bacon on his list (ironic for the man who produced “Super Size Me,” a condemnation of the fast food biz); Rocco Dispirto honors his mom’s meatballs (which he claims he’s made less caloric) and Michael Chernow (owner of NY’s eatery, Meatball) pimps a lot of swag merch which advertise his food joint. Mildly interesting? — perhaps. Essential? — hardly. Stylish? — not so much. And then there’s comedian Aasif Mandvi, who is given two episodes for his 10 essentials, with many of his need-to-haves too strange to list even in an uncensored medium.

On the other hand, the “10-E” episodes featuring Willie Giest of the “Today” show, hip-hop artist/fashion czar Sean Paul, and designer Alejandro Ingelmo are top notch — well produced, fast-paced, and interesting in that their essentials (iPhone aside) have you racing to your local search engine to find where you can buy a certain hair styling gel or KD4s (that’s a basketball shoe). Fact is, Conde Nast has no easy-click way to buy any of the products mentioned in the videos which is a huge fail on the publisher’s part. Too commercial, you say? When was the last time you renewed a print magazine subscription? Nuff said.

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