Pop Culture Abroad: Entertainment Magazines from Other Countries


No matter how much of an intellectual you fancy yourself, you’ve read an entertainment magazine. Maybe it was an issue of People at the hair salon. Maybe it was an old TV Guide in your in-law’s bathroom. Maybe it was an US Weekly perused sulkily while waiting in line at CVS behind an eighty-year-old couple who brought their weight in expired coupons and needed to be told, gently but repeatedly, that CVS can’t accept expired coupons. No, not even if she begs. No, not even if he was in the war.

Old man with gun

This argument is slightly more persuasive.

Pop culture periodicals might not be cerebral, but they can be educational, in their own way. Looking at entertainment magazines from other countries can help you understand what the average person in that country thinks and talks about. And since I have two such magazines at my disposal–one from England, the other from Japan–I thought I’d make a short post about them.



RADIO TIMES, MAY 14-20, 2016 (the U.K.)

You wouldn’t think English magazines would differ that much from their American counterparts. The U.S. is, after all, a former British colony, and, thanks to Hollywood and BBC America, cultural exchange between the two countries continues, even two-and-some-change centuries after the Revolution.

And indeed, a lot of the material in this issue of Radio Times would be at home in People. We’ve got articles about X-Men: First Class, references to the Kardashians, and a guest appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

But we also have an exhaustive five-point guide on how to predict the Eurovision winner, so I think it’s safe to say there are some differences.


Abba won Eurovision in 1974. As an American, I am not obligated to care about this.

This issue also features bits on cricket, East Enders, and a mystifying film grading system.

The King's Speech and GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra

Surely this can’t be right. Surely.

Like its American fellows, the Radio Times is chalk full of advertisements. Unlike its American fellows, it doesn’t advertise exclusively things that are porcelain and insane, like frighteningly realistic baby dolls, or an eight-piece set of plates featuring Native Americans hugging.


Plates, Native Americans hugging, Bradford Exchange

I wasn’t being hypothetical.

No, if you order something from a British magazine, it’ll be something a bit more…raw.

Order meat through the mail, award-winning steaks

I understand it’s a pain driving out to Tesco, but is mail-order meat really the way to go?

But that’s not the weirdest thing in Radio Times. Oh, no–I’ve saved the most bizarre for last. You see, as I was checking out the cover headlines, something caught my eye.

Countryfile, Radio Times

Not this.


Not this either.


There it is.

I’m certainly in no position to judge, but…England, buddy. You okay?



ANAN, MAY 18, 2016 (Japan)

Okay, hold the snickers. Yes, this is a Japanese fashion and entertainment magazine. Yes, there are anime characters on the cover. I’ll have you know that this cover caused a minor stir specifically because it was the first time anime characters had been featured on the front of Anan. Okay? It’s not a routine thing. All right? Jeez. You guys.

Anan is aimed at women. In keeping with that, this issue includes articles on fashion, cooking, celebrities, and…the occult?

Slippers, Anan

A page from the beginning of the magazine.


A page from the end of the magazine, advertising a psychic hotline with over 250 available mediums!

It’s not entirely unexpected, given the popularity in Japan of blood-type astrology and flash-in-the-pan lifestyle fads, like the one where you always wear four pairs of socks. And really, we Americans are no better, with our stupid trendy diets that serve only as topics with which to annoy your coworkers in the break room.

Meat, paleo diet

This is not how paleolithic people ate, you overly credulous dipthong.

Still, the amount of space dedicated to fortune telling in this magazine is notable. For example, of this issue’s 124 pages, 42 of them are about palmistry.


And, yes. They read the anime characters’ palms too.


They might as well! They’ve already got them in the studio!

One of the characters has a prominent family link line, which means his siblings are very important to him. I myself have a water hand, which means I have trouble finishing what I start. I wonder if that includes this po




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