I am enamoured with the ABC1 docu-drama Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.
Despite disliking Cleo in its modern form I thoroughly loved Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. Set in the 1970s, Paper Giants is the story of how Cleo Magazine was founded, and edited by Ita Buttrose under the helm of Sir Frank and Kerry Packer.
Ita Buttrose is my new idol. I loved how she was in such a senior role yet rode the bus to and from work.
And as brash as Kerry Packer was portrayed, he believed in Ita’s ability and work ethic. She was 30 years old – editing a new magazine and single parenting. Holding a magazine meeting right after the birth of her son! Oh the drive. Ita lead a team of progressive young writers and photographers in producing a groundbreaking magazine for young women. Cleo covered womens-lib issues such as politics, contraception, abortion and work-life balance as well as sex for women’s pleasure and fashion.
Back then, Cleo knew its readers. It didn’t underestimate their intelligence, and the content seemed new, vibrant, intelligent and relevant. Now I find Cleo repetitive, unintelligent and highly focused on body image and can be quite smutty and concentrating too much on how to please men.
I loved the liberated sisterhood. The way the Cleo staff threw around ideas for the magazine, saw potential in each other and encouraged each other was lovely – so collaborative. The conversations about sex were funny. So empowering. Cleo gave female journalists opportunities.
And the fashions – wow! Nina Edwards, costume designer, did an interview on the ABC website which is a great read. And my good friend Cheryl from Business Chic was so inspired by the fashions, she wrote a blog post on them.
It was such a good production. Well acted, well researched, great music and Australian references.
Asher Keddie was fantastic playing Ita. Here’s Asher and Ita.
Her accent was perfect without being a characterture. She was warm, inclusive, driven, funny and very liberated.
Jessica Tovey looked beautiful playing the naive and extremely fashionable Leslie Carpenter.
Matt Day is a long time crush of mine.
And Will Meadows is a new crush!
You can catch the episodes on the ABC website.
Paper Giants made me think about my magazine consumption. I love magazines. It’s relaxing flicking through them.
My magazine reading has not decreased but become more refined over the past five years. I buy each issue of InStyle, Shop til You Drop (because I love fashion) and Frankie, and sometimes Rolling Stone, Delicious and a Marie Claire/Madison depending on my time. Cosmo and Cleo are no longer relevant to me – while I fall into their demographic I hate the propensity to cover the same shallow topics of image, sex and diets and portray airbrushed perfection. The magazines assume the reader is dumb.
I did a magazine studies subject in 2006 as a part of my Masters of Communications, and I can’t believe how irrelevant magazines have become since then – due to the internet. I love the way the internet lets you choose the topics you want to read, and often the quality of writing and content is SO much better than the glossies. Since I consume most media online now, it doesn’t worry me that I don’t know what Gaga or the Hiltons are up to. I prefer reading about real women.