Salvo 3: Under the Influence
Having now completed three issues of Salvo, I see some patterns emerging in terms of reader feedback (and we have received a ton of correspondence, for which I’m exceedingly grateful). For example, the vast majority of subscribers love the fake advertisements, some even asking whether we would consider making the ads into posters that could be purchased (which isn’t a bad idea, so stay tuned). Such letters of glowing praise are much appreciated, as one might expect, and they have confirmed in our minds that Salvo is a needed publication, offering content that can’t be found elsewhere. Even so, the comments that most interest us—the ones that stimulate lunchtime conversation (not to mention sleepless nights)—are the complaints. Call us insecure, but we agonize over such mail, forever wondering whether these grievances are legitimate or whether they reflect the idiosyncrasies of given readers. Fortunately for us, most of the criticisms that we have thus far received seem to stem from misunderstandings with regard to our mission, approach, and goals. I’d like to take this opportunity to address these objections.
Perhaps the most frequent beef that readers have with Salvo is that we are overly negative in our assessment of American culture. “Why don’t you focus on some of the positive things that are happening in society?” these people ask. The answer to this question is fairly straightforward; we just don’t feel it’s our job to locate the good in the culture. There are plenty of perky little magazines out there that will tell you all about what Bono has done for AIDS relief in Africa or about the latest Walden Media film that successfully promotes family values. Indeed, we knew from the beginning that we didn’t want Salvo to walk in the footprints of other publications. What we believed that readers really needed—the type of periodical that we hadn’t ever seen before—was a magazine that would identify the false messages circulating throughout society and then deconstruct them, some sort of guide that would help subscribers navigate through the jungle of lies and myths that, tragically, is the current American cultural landscape. If there’s an upbeat way to go about this task, we have yet to find it.
This brings me to the second most prevalent complaint about Salvo, which is that the magazine is mean-spirited. I think there’s some confusion here about the difference between satire and malice. Believe me; we understand that there are people out there who are anguishing over their homosexual desires, others who are opting for abortions out of desperation and as a last resort, and still others who support embryonic stem-cell research because a loved one has Parkinson’s or some other presently incurable disease. And this is why, with the exception of our Crosshairs department, which targets those who are actively disseminating misinformation, we never go after specific individuals, instead reserving our ammunition for the ideologies that inform their understandable—but no less misguided—decisions and behaviors. Sure, we are often dismissive of such worldviews, even occasionally derisive in our analyses, but that’s only because the ideologies themselves are ludicrous and undeserving of respectful engagement. Our goal is to demonstrate to readers—using logic and common sense, yes, but also humor and ridicule and parody—that you have to be mad, blind, or completely apathetic to buy into some of the mindsets that pass for truth these days. Is it mean to prevent people from slipping into insanity? Surely not. In fact, we would argue that it’s the working definition of compassion.
Finally, a good number of people contend that Salvo fails to treat its subjects with enough nuance and complexity, that our articles are too short and our conclusions too unqualified. What such readers are looking for, I believe, is an academic journal—something that adopts an intellectual distance from the topics at hand and explores them exhaustively, tentatively, and with kid gloves. But here’s the thing: There is more than one front to these culture wars, and it was never our intention to take a scholarly stance toward society. Rather, Salvo was conceived as a counterpoint to secular pop media outlets, those that seek to entertain as they indoctrinate and are all the more effective in reaching the general populace as a result. Not that we intentionally dumb down our material or deal in ad hominem attacks, as many other publications do, but we are trying to make the magazine eminently readable, providing in a provocative fashion just enough information to make readers want to learn more.
I trust this brief explanation somewhat clarifies the mission and approach of Salvo. Our magazine will not be everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but I am nevertheless convinced—likewise because of feedback we have received—that we are making a difference. That said, I want to reiterate that we always welcome your comments—whether positive or negative—and all of us here at Salvo sincerely hope that you enjoy and are edified by this third issue of our magazine. •
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