"The Best Article"

david j. sperling BIO
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"The Best Article"


     I think articles that are bold, honest, and willing to say the things that others won't (because they honor the dollar) could work—But the delivery must be entertaining. 


    Example:  A lot of people hate smoking and smokers and so on (at least enough people to have an audience), yet Denis Leary's "NO CURE FOR CANCER" act (you can rent it if you haven't seen it) was so raw and honest, the biggest anti-smoking people couldn't help but laugh and be entertained by it.  It was very UN-P.C., but it worked.  I think it was his honesty.


    I think topics that people can relate to will work—But it's a fine line.


    Example:  I was up for the writing job of the re-make of "THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE" and part of my pitch revolved around what truly scares people (the assignment suggested they wanted to tell the "real" story...but they didn't end up going that direction).  I argued that chainsaw wielding maniacs are thrilling, but not scary.  Who can relate to that?  Now, the neighbor that you've been barbecuing t-bones with, who happens to get arrested for having bodies under his house—IS SCARY.  And real.  How many times have you heard people being interviewed on the evening news saying stupid things like, "He was quiet, but he did wave at us everyday".  Of course he was quiet—HE HAD BODIES UNDER HIS HOUSE!!!  You see, we're all quite capable of appearing normal.  It's easy.  I created the following expression, "If you want to have lots of friends, all you have to do is lie."  Try it.  Most likely you already have.


    Underneath it all, each and every one of us is also quite capable of killing.  It's why the number one suspect in a homicide investigation is the spouse or lover of the victim.  And 9 out of 10 times they're guilty.  Are they 100% pure evil?  No.  No one is.  But those slimy-clawed freaks lurking in the bushes are—But I digress.  I think that's the fine line. 


    Example:  An article on a serial killer can be interesting—But an article on the perfect neighbor who ran a meth lab, or a prostitution ring, or a scat website, is truly engaging.  It reaches deeper within the reader because it ACTUALLY affects them…Or could.  When you’re thinking, “Wow, this could’ve happened to me!” it’s working.  Because, let's face it, no one gives a damn about a starving child.  At least not until you meet one, or see one, or hear one cry, or are somehow affected by it.  Then either you lock in and get to doing something about it, or you drink yourself blind.


    I think what interests me are columns that are fearless and expose the truth about ourselves and our world—Even if it is distasteful.  I do some work in crisis intervention and negotiations and trust me; delivering bad news with sincerity is much more responsible, therapeutic, and effective than delivering a smiling polished lie.  The level of anger the information or the story angle might cause should be irrelevant.  We’re all adults.  We can handle it.  I really do believe in freedom of speech (despite our government’s willingness to let lawyers sue citizens for simply opening their mouths—Whatever happened to opinions?). 


    Few things make less sense than media sensationalism.  How many shots of Michael Jackson entering a courtroom are we going to see over the next 5 years?  It's pathetic.  The reporters and the broadcasters are so stuck on the lowest common denominator, that I either laugh hysterically, or leave the room because I feel like I'm going to put my fist through the television.  Why do I mention this?  I can't remember, but it’s probably synapse crossover from a future column I’m working on regarding frozen chicken and domestic violence.


    A lot of magazines seem to be catering to men's desires of being rock stars or Wall Street moguls.  How many of these magazine readers ever end up with dreams such as these—actually fulfilled?  How many readers can actually afford the eel shoes, Armani suits and matching Motorola DVD cell phones that Jude Law or Colin Farrell seem to be sporting in those glossy layouts?  Very few.  And do guys really want to read articles on, “TWELVE STEPS OF SKIN PREPARATION FOR THE PERFECT SHAVE”?  Don't try to make us into high maintenance women.  We’re always going to take a few steps less than is necessary anyway (that’s why there are so many arrest warrants in this world—No one ever finishes all the proper steps!). 


So what does all this mean?  This means there is a large group of disenchanted readers.  Either that or they're pretending.  Eventually they have to return to their world of construction, bartending, cab driving, information systems management, home mortgages, and sales jobs.  These guys are being lied to—And not only are the covers of these magazines slick, but so are the agendas.  I think a magazine that tells it how it is would be liberating.  It might start a movement.  It's embrace-able.  Possible.  We all know, not everyone is going to be an astronaut—So why the hell are people so frightened to say it out loud?


    I'm weird.  I'm freakishly honest.  I have a center and I try to stay focused on what's important.  I'm not just interested in taking.  I want to give something back.  I want to make a difference.  As tiring as it sounds, I want to make the world better.  I'm a Christian.  But there should be no reason that being one deters me from honestly wondering and asking the question, "If a person has congress with a canned ham, is it bestiality or necrophilia...Or both?"  My mind asks these questions all of the time.  Sorting out all of the sewage society pours down my throat requires some power tools.  That’s my brain.  I’m digressing again…


     My goal is to do God's will and fulfill my purpose.  I'm a sociologist by trade and experience.  I see a lot of lost and damaged people, so I do have an unusual perspective, one that often differs from the average beer-drinking, pussy-chasing, mono-syllabic-grunting, suffering and intimacy-avoiding male—BUT I CAN RELATE. 


    I think if readers are asked to stretch a little, that in and of itself would be something different.  Not too much, but spelling everything out is boring.  Let them think.  Provoke duality with entertainment.  The best movies are right versus right situations.  They cut deep.  In "A FEW GOOD MEN" we all knew Jack Nicholson's character was probably wrong—But we sympathized.  We understood.  Those two opposing avenues cause conflict.  There is no drama without conflict.  None.  And no interest either.  Even "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER" had conflict.  Conflict for the sake of conflict is bad.  Conflict with good intentions can be good for the world.


    I also like articles that expose something I haven't heard.  Information on subjects (a botched vasectomy or laser eye-surgery procedure) that bring out the often heard and often frustrating exclamation, "Why the hell didn't anyone tell me about this?!" 


Here are a few topics that your readers might find interesting:


--A serious take on PORN ADDICTION is ripe (I guarantee porn addicts groups will rival AA in 5 years, and be just as socially acceptable).


--The advantages of "BEING AN AMERICAN" is ripe (Have you seen the email that says if the world was 100 people, only 1 would have a computer?  We have a lot and sometimes we need to adjust our perspective).


--True stats on crime, especially rape, murder, missing children, and prisons would shock people (The media has their information so skewed that readers will find the simple truth stunning).


     I even like the idea of posing questions to your readers.  The more they're involved, the better MAX BIKINI’S focus will be.  Hell, you could ask them what they want to read, maybe give free issues or subscriptions for those that respond. 


                                                                                         - David J. Sperling

                                                                                           March 2003