The premise behind Giant seems simple enough: guys fork over $56 kazillion every year for DVDs, CDs, and any number of other entertainment-related trinkets. Hence a magazine devoted to those trinkets, minus the boobies and related lad-mag detritus, couldn't possibly miss. Right?
Well, in theory, anyway. A handful of issues into its infancy, Giant remains very much a work-in-progress. As it stands now, it's a smart, lively concept executed somewhat less than gracefully, sort of like a Jay-Z/Captain & Tennille mashup.
Giant seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis. On one hand, it attempts more than its share of snark. The problem: the best of it is unfunny (a "Barometer" rave for "seeing ugly guys check out ugly women on the street") and the worst of it doesn't make much sense. The most prominent example: a mag-ending "Stop" picture of a bloodied Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ, accompanied by a "Terminator" text caption. Easter, "I'll be back"... oh, I get it now. Medic!
On the other hand, Giant's reviews and features have a meek, deferential tone to them. Take Q&A with Nicolas Cage and his terrifying hairline. In the table of contents, the mag notes, "Nic Cage does it all. Here's how he pulls it off." Fifty-odd pages later, in its interview with the actor, the reporter asks him, "How do you switch gears and move from drama to comedy to action so often?" They punt on the obvious follow-up, however, by failing to ask him whether his great greatness could be any greater.
The "Volume" section of reviews is similarly credibility deflating. Like a softhearted elementary-school teacher, the reviewers are either unable or unwilling to hand out a poor grade. Of the 45 movies, CDs, television shows, books, and video games reviewed in the April/May issue, only one receives a grade below B-minus (Animal Planet's "Animal X," burdened with a shameful C-plus). If you purport to be a definitive entertainment guide for guys, you gotta be willing to administer a critical whipping every so often.
It's a shame that these tonal issues are so distracting, as there's an awful lot to like about Giant. With the exception of Entertainment Weekly, few magazines seem as in synch with pop-culture trends. In the April/May issue alone, at least five items elicit the coveted it's-about-time-somebody-wrote-this reaction.
The April/May issue commemorates the 6-year anniversary of "Office Space" by pulling together the cast for a lengthy Q&A, essential reading for anybody who loved the flick (raising hand). There's a photographic salute to the '70s cop mustache, an "Old School" trivia quiz, and an update on the whereabouts of the "Night Court" cast. Mini-features like these should be where the mag focuses its attention, as opposed to its logy, pointless chats with starlets Rosario Dawson and Mena Suvari.
Best is the lengthy tribute to perpetually under-the-radar Brit-poppers XTC (side note: if you dig the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper/White Album phase, pick up XTC's "Oranges and Lemons" on your way home from work today. Thank me later.). This is precisely the sort of story that Giant needs more of - the topic sits slightly outside the mainstream, yet it should still resonate with aficionado and newbie alike.
Not that anybody's knocking down my door for advice, but here's my short-term fix for Giant. Ditch the mainstream bimbos and fashion spreads. Save the abstract Jesus humor for Sunday dinner. And for the love of all that is holy, limit the use of exclamation points on the cover to two, tops (the April/May issue boasts five, à la CosmoGIRL!). This mag is only an attitudinal tweak or two away from being a mainstay on the coffee tables of 20-something guys.