Family groups are outraged at the new lads mag for pre-pubescent kids, Pacific Magazines’ titivatingly titled Explode, a monthly magazine aiming to capture the 12 to 17-year-old teen boy market.

While
the Australian Family Association and the Victorian Parents Council are
calling for it to be banned for its s*x tips and references to beer,
editor Stephen Farrelly told Crikey today: “We want to be controversial
and rebellious… Of course there are some uptight parent groups who don’t get it, that’s the point, boys get it.”

Explode promises
“Chicks, cars, games and sport” and is plastered with a bikini-clad
starlet, a twin-supercharged mustang, rapper 50 cent and the promise of
a “Hot Sealed Section.”

The magazine conducted focus groups over
18 months with more than 600 kids to make sure they “got it right,”
says Farrelly. Getting it right for a readership whose main concerns
are a breaking voice and back acne seems to mean a careful combination
of the “gross factor” and bo*bs. The magazine opens with “Feeding time!”
– a double page spread of a lamb being eaten alive by piranhas.

Then
there’s “Your mate’s big sister of the month” – “that’s about featuring
older girls that are hot but you’re never going to get them, ” says
Farrelly. “They are beyond reach but that’s the idea behind it, for the
younger guy. It’s an aspirational magazine…Besides, Alana is hardly
scantily clad…FHM and Ralph are beginning to show nip*le…at least our girls are clothed. And they’re not pushed in any derogatory way at all.”

Family groups have also criticised Explode
for their references to drinking beer, notably “Life’s Great Firsts:
That Drink with Dad.” Farrelly told Crikey, “We approached it as a rite
of passage between a father and son, it wasn’t about getting drunk and
passing out. We can’t ignore the alcohol factor…It comes back to
speaking their language – ‘we know what you’re going through…'”

The magazine will also share a strong cross-over relationship with sister publication Girlfriend. But there are a few eyebrow-raising lines in Explode
in relation to the opposite s*x: “Tell It Like it Is: Break Up Lines”
shares suggestions like, “Sure, I’d like to keep going out with you,
but all my friends think you’re ugly…” and “Oh my God! I just
realised you look EXACTLY like my dog when it walks backwards.”

“While we do want to parallel Girlfriend to some extent we want to be the grosser brother, ” says Farrelly. “We don’t want to be the prissy boy that Girlfriend
portrays and idolises – we’re the more gross, realistic boy…It’s
taking the p*ss and catering to the guy who wants to be the class
clown.”

As for the inspiration behind the explosive title, “It’s
a metaphor for teenage existence,” says Farrelly. “In your formative
years everything is so confusing and your body is going through so many
changes… you‘re being pulled in all sorts of directions and
everyone’s giving you different messages and you
just want to explode.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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