November 22, 2007
Weir No. 1 in, oops!, 'Penthouse' magazine
Normally, if a national publication decides to write about Mississippi, people here start hunkering down.
"They never write anything good about this state," they say. "It's always negative."
"They" are "the media."
So this national magazine publishes an article titled "Country Strong - How Did the Tiny Town of Weir, Mississippi, Win Six High School Football State Championships and Produce Six NFL Players, Not to Mention a Major League Baseball All-Star and a Miss America?"
The story is not negative - unless it's negative to call a town of 500-600 people "tiny."
Unfortunately, at least for some supporters of the small but plucky town of Weir, the story is in Penthouse, a magazine whose slogan might be "Clothing/reading skills optional."
SI OF RELIEF
For many who buy the magazine, the articles that are squeezed in between the photos of Women Without Borders are like the bubble gum sold with baseball cards.
Somewhat beside the point.
On the other hand, a few hundred thousand people subscribe to Penthouse, and others buy it at newsstands. Some of those might buy it just to read about Weir. Afterward, they might think more highly of Mississippi.
Or at least think about it.
Over the past few years, Penthouse has tried to become more "mainstream" by running fewer articles about sex in favor of more about, for instance, sports.
It's not your grandfather's Penthouse. Not that Paw-Paw would buy it.
At any rate, none of this matters to some people.
Newspapers have reported that local officials were shocked-just-shocked to learn that the article ran in Penthouse.
They thought it was going to run in Sports Illustrated, which, of course, never publishes pictures of wanton women in unchaste poses.
Bloggers have called the article "disrespectful" and a "disgrace."
Someone suggested exacting compensation from the magazine and/or writer - a freelancer who sold it to Penthouse after SI turned it down.
As a member of "the media" and resident of this state, let me say: Give me a tiny break.
First of all: A photographer from Penthouse comes to a thin but wiry town like Weir and no one knows it?
I'm shocked-just-shocked that a public official would imply that.
Also, what would the school be compensated for? Enduring all the attention drawn to its excellent football team? Facing the prospect that somebody may be inspired to move to, maybe even invest in, the town?
Anyone who feels shocked, disrespected or disgraced by the article, here's what you do: When a football scout tries to recruit some local talent he read about in Penthouse, run him out of town. If someone who read about you in Penthouse decides to open a restaurant there, tar and feather him. If someone moves to Choctaw County because he liked what he read in Penthouse, burn him in effigy.
I'll be shocked-just-shocked if you act otherwise.
Losing as an Astros/Mets fan is better than winning as a Yankees fan...or Braves fan...or Phillies fan, or Cardinals fan........