Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I LEARNED THE TRUTH AT JUST SEVENTEEN: With the death of the Face, the axing of Just Seventeen has gone by largely unmourned; although you could argue that J-17 had a far deeper influence on the British newsagents than The Face did - while both changed magazines, Just 17's impact can still be felt today, whereas the Face's niche has more or less disappeared totally (... presumably taking the Face with it). Nevertheless, Just Seventeen's demise is relegated to a footnote in stories about The Face. That's a little unfair.

Before Smash Hits gained its sister publication, teenage girls' magazines would go on dates with boys but seldom do more than a spot of hand-holding. For better or - as Bob Geldof would have it, worse - J17 actually listened to its readers when they wanted to know about what would come next, talking frankly about breasts and penises and necking and pregnancy. Blamed for turning Britain into a nation of slappers, J17 actually did what the schools belatedly realised what they should be doing, too - providing the facts in an honest, non-censorious, non-alarmist way and trusting the kids to use their own judgement once armed with those facts. The Daily Mail would tell you that J17 created the boom in single, pregnant teenagers; we'd suggest it actually helped control it.

We weren't that regular a reader of it - like porn, we'd always enjoy it when we happened upon it, but never could quite work up the swagger to place a regular order at Bill's Newsagents; however, Me-ish not only read regularly and covered their bedroom wall with its posters, they even got to go to the offices. It does seem to have caused them a Larry Mullen obsession, though.

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