Part of the responsibility of being a leader is a clear understanding of whom you’re impressing upon. And, the assignment of any role of authority, whether or not they asked for it, comes with a duty to provide guidance that is not only helpful, but wise.
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino (MTV’s The Jersey Shore) is on the cover of Men’s Fitness December/January 2011. His bewildered look, notwithstanding, Men’s Fitness chose to draw (more?) attention to this dubious role model’s torso by implying in BOLD, ALL CAPS, that you can “DRINK, PARTY AND GET ABS LIKE THESE!” with a red arrow pointing at Sorrentino’s abdomen.
True, this sounds like a statement this character might very well utter (for the camera). Whether or not he believes it, is anyone’s guess. But the readers of Men’s Fitness magazine will.
According to Men’s Fitness, Sorrentino is “serious about his fitness routine.” The magazine’s website bullet-lists Sorrentino’s alleged suggestions for six pack abs, in “The Situation’s 8-Fit Rules.” All are true, none are unique. So what exactly do these suggestions have to do with drinking and partying? Other than bullet number eight, “give yourself one cheat day,” this list seems contradictory to what the cover headline screams. And what any cover headline is meant to do is sell magazines.
Pierce Mattie Public Relations, responded to my Twitter post on this issue by insinuating that they are targeting a demographic, “don’t most of their models drink and party?” As a matter of fact, Men’s Fitness magazine's readership demographic (according to the American Media Inc. website) are men with “a median age of 35.5,” boasting that they cater to “one of the youngest readerships in the male category.”
Considering that the magazine recently filed for bankruptcy protection, perhaps their true readership target is irrelevant (now). Assuming it is, then this is all about sales. So what’s next, “Drink Beer for Bulging Biceps,” “Help Your Heart, Have a Heineken”?
By implying to a younger demographic that “drinking and partying will give you abs,” Men’s Fitness is downright irresponsible and egregious. Here’s what excessive drinking could give you: impaired judgment (think unsafe sex, drunk driving), loss of sleep (and work), possibly liver poisoning (alcohol contains methanol and ethanol) and long term effects that include brain injury. But, heck, according to Men’s Fitness, and by association, "The Situation," do it; after all, it’ll give you abs.