I Read It for the Articles
aka: I Watch It For The Economics
I Read It for the Articles is the Stock Phrase
people use to avoid catching any flak over liking a media product which has parts to it that are not popular or socially acceptable. It still allows them to watch or read it as a Guilty Pleasure
— after all, they can't say they actually like
it without facing widespread ridicule. Some have actually said "I watch it ironically" unironically.
Name comes from
a common justification for reading Playboy
magazine, which an incredible number of people claim to only read for the articles. While certainly discredited
today as a legitimate
excuse, this could have reasonably been Truth in Television
in The Sixties
and The Seventies
. Playboy paid writers nearly three times as much as other publications, meaning that it drew considerable talent, such as Jack Kerouac
and Arthur C. Clarke
, and interviewed interesting people like Martin Luther King
or Fidel Castro
. It still features a variety of short stories, snippets, and interviews that wouldn't be out of place in The New Yorker
... Just with naked women. This is true to the point that the Braille edition of Playboy
is one of the top selling Braille magazines, even though it completely lacks its usual selling point.
To be honest, Playboy does have a startling amount of purely factual and text articles. It's either intellectual content with a pornographic bonus or pornography
with an intellectual bonus. (Writers will tell you that getting published in Playboy
really is a big deal - and they're right.)
Just to be clear, this is in-universe examples only. Works that you or the fandom
consider guilty pleasures are not examples of this trope.
Compare Or So I Heard
. Contrast with Unconventional Learning Experience
. Also see Come for the X, Stay for the Y
open/close all folders
- The Discovery Channel used this trope to market the show Smash Lab when it premiered.
- At least at one point, Playboy sold and advertised shirts with their logo in small and the trope name in large print.
- Playboy actually sold compilations of all its articles. You can get the last Playboy John Lennon interview as a book too.
- The founder actually stated that, without the naughty pictures, Playboy would have been a literary magazine.
- The articles in Mayfair Magazine (still the leading men's rag in the UK) are commonly of topics suited to The History Channel () or Discovery, such as articles on the common myths surrounding Drake's defeat of the Spanish Armada or the tactics and techniques of contemporary era snipers, or the design of new-line Rolls Royce engines. It's quite common for readers to get the mag for the women, and stay to read the articles.
- Loaded alternated cheesecake and mild-glamour pictures with engaging and readable articles. Many well-known writers and journalists began with this magazine, as with its American imitators such as GQ and Maxim.
- In a review of The Bourne Legacy in The Irish Times, film critic Donald Clarke joked that people who claim to watch The Bourne Series for the plot are rather analogous to people who claim to read Playboy for the articles.
- In Breakfast of Champions, although Kilgore Trout's novels once sold at a high price to people who bought them for the "wide-open beavers" advertised on their covers in banners larger than the stories' titles, they later sold at a far lower price to people who bought them for the words, since hard-core pornography had become so devalued that "even high quality color motion pictures of wide-open beavers were going begging in the marketplace." When Kilgore Trout buys an old issue of Black Garterbelt magazine including one of his own stories, the cashier thinks he's just buying it for the Poor Man's Porn.
- Dave Barry mentions this excuse in one of his books: "you read it for the articles despite knowing how hard it is to read sideways."
Live Action TV
- In NCIS, Tony states this as the reason why he has such a large Porn Stash.
- In the Friends episode "The One Where Chandler Crosses a Line":
Oh, God, is that Baywatch
Yes, but I only watch it for the articles.
- Also a bit of an inversion in the episode where Playboy prints a joke which Ross (or Chandler) made, and Joey says, "You know they have naked chicks in there, right?"
- Referenced in Coupling where the men visit a lap dancing club, Steve claims their visit is 'strictly for the articles'.
- An inversion occurs in the Christina Applegate sitcom Jesse when the title character finds a Playboy among Diego's belongings.
Jesse: Let me guess. You read it for the articles.
Diego: No, no... there are naked women in here.
- Another inversion happens in Mork and Mindy in an episode where Mork becomes addicted to advertisements. When Mindy finds a magazine, Mork says "I swear, I only read it for the naked women."
- In Will and Grace, Will mentions "actually reading Playboy for the articles" as something he used to do before he came out.
- Life on Mars (2006) - Sam's excuse while hiding a tape recorder under Gene's copy of Jugs.
"You know what the really sad thing is? I believe you."
- Theo uses this as a defense for Cliff finding a Biker Mag in his sock drawer on The Cosby Show.
- A non-pornographic version was used in the Law & Order episode "D-Girl", when Lieutenant Van Buren says she had heard about the victim of the week in the tabloids. That she only saw while she was in the line at the grocery store.
- From FoxTrot (paraphrased):
Andy: Peter, I found something interesting under your mattress.
Peter: Mom, I swear, I only read those magazines for the articles!
Andy: I meant this baseball mitt. Now, about those magazines...
- Another strip has Jason excitedly carrying a stack of National Geographics. Roger assumes that he intends to use it as Poor Man's Porn, but it turns out he and his pal Marcus actually were interested in the articles, particularly the Apollo 11 pictures.
- In another one, Peter claims to have bought the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for an article on marlin fishing off Bora Bora. His mother offers to cut the article out for him and his impassioned response is "And read it out of context?".
- Parodied in Pooch Cafe when Chaz tries to convince Poncho that a collarless dog is still decent by showing him wolf photos. (Kinda gives a new meaning to National Geographic Nudity.)
- The Wizard of Id had a strip where the Wizard is told by his shrewish wife that his girly magazine arrived in the mail. The Wizard objects, noting the fine articles in it; she says that she's glad he thinks that way, because she cut out the pictures (which horrifies the Wizard).
- Alex: In one strip Clive his shocked when he flicks through his boss's collection of leatherbound Victorian pornography and discovers how explicit they are. Penny remarks that shouldn't be, as they were that era's equivalent of Playboy and Penthouse. Clive responds that this is why he thought they would have the occassional article about Stephenson's Rocket or spinning jennys in them, so that a chap could claim to be reading them for that.
- In Hamish And Dougal, the Laird reads Big Fit Birds for the gardening tips.
- One of Round the Horne's running gags is Kenneth Horne mentioning some absurd and often vaguely smutty-sounding publication and claiming to read it for the crossword/spot the ball competion/etc.
"Now the other day I was leafing through my copy of The Lady Wrestlers Home Journal, which I buy for the fat stock prices..."
"Recently I was leafing through my copy of Throw off Your Clothes and Live- I buy it for the chess problems..."
- Lampshaded on one episode of The Now Show with a song, one of whose lines was "you don't read The Sun for the news" (as well as going through every other example of Poor Man's Porn).
- In the Radio 4 adaptation of The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Pepys's bookseller explains that L'escolle des filles is quite expensive due to the high demand among people interested in the story of a sixteen-year-old girl being "educated" by her older cousin, but that Pepys will of course only be interested in its literary merit, before leeringly adding that it has illustrations. (Pepys himself called it "a mighty lewd book, but yet not amiss for a sober man once to read over to inform himself in the villainy of the world.")
- In one sketch, the French comedian trio "Les Inconnus" mentioned the magazine Photo, an art photography magazine featuring naked models , which can "provide a good alibi" when in society :
"...it looks very smart, you can read it in front of people : '- what are you reading ?' '- I'm reading Photo... You know, I recently took interest in Photography...' "
- In the Robin Williams show Weapons Of Self Destruction, he takes a jab at NASCAR fans.
Robin: "I watch NASCAR for the driving." Yeah, and I watch porn for the acting. YOU LIAR!!!
- In-Universe in Fallout 2: when asked by Miss Kitty in New Reno why you have some Cat's Paw magazines on you, you can reply that you read them for the articles.
- She gives you a quest to find a full set of the Cat's Paw magazines, since she runs the Cat's Paw brothel. When you bring them all back, she says there's two issues of #5, and some of the pages are stuck together,. so you can keep it. She unsticks them for you, since she's an expert at handling sticky things. An article in the magazine gives you an extra 5% skill with energy weapons. "What do you know. You DO read it for the articles."
- Mao of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice claims that his obsessive collection of comics and videogames is merely research on heroes... it's pretty obvious that he's one of The Knights Who Say Squee.
- Guardsman Joey in Dragon Nest supposedly reads "Naughty Goddess" (a men's magazine, wink wink) for the articles, then uses the rest for toilet paper. So does your character. Even if your character is the archer (an elf girl).
- In Justice League, when Flash says that he knows who the Hugh Hefner expy is, Wonder Woman asks "So you're familiar with his work?" To which Flash responds "I just read it for the articles." As always, this bit of Getting Crap Past the Radar brought to you by Justice League.
- Homer tries to use this excuse on Marge in an episode of The Simpsons, so she calls his bluff and cuts out all of the naked women. Homer sadly throws the Playdude in the garbage where Bart finds it, and apparently not realizing that something is missing, assumes the articles are what the big deal is about.
- But what about the articles on the other side of the paper?
- In an older episode, Bart asks supernanny Sherry Bobbins what she'd do if she caught him reading a Playdude. Her answer? Make him read ALL the articles, including Norman Mailer's "latest claptrap about his waning libido".
- In "Homer the Heretic," Homer reads a copy of Playdude while his family is at church, and he actually is reading the articles!
- In My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, Rabbit's Christmas wish is to meet Santa Claus and find out how he delivers toys to all the children. He doesn't think it's possible, though, so he states that he's also asked for a subscription to Rutabaga Monthly. He then continues, hilariously, "for the articles, of course."
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh Five accuses Numbuh Two of reading Rainbow Monkey comics. Numbuh Two claims that he only reads them for the video game ads.
- Parodied in King of the Hill where Hank discovers a copy of The New Yorker in Bobby's room. When confronted about Bobby panics and swears that he wasn't reading it for the articles.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Daphne spots Fred with a copy of his favorite magazine "Traps Illustrated" with a female cheesecake photo on the cover. Fred's alibi is that he reads it for the articles. (This being Fred, it's very possible he's sincere.)
- Inverted in an Ed, Edd n Eddy episode where Eddy has Ed hide his "magazines". After the trio implies that Ed hid them in the sewer and Double D mentions how the text must be ruined, Eddy's remark is, "It's the pictures I'm worried about."
- Referenced again in the same episode. While Double D is trying to deduce where Ed might have hidden the box of magazines, he instructs the very impatient Eddy to "read a magazine or something." Eddy retorts that he would if he knew where they were; Double D rather snootily asks, "Oh, you read those?"
- Inverted(?) in the American Dad! episode "G-String Circus," when ex-stripper Tanqueray declares: "I'm gonna try and get in Playboy. I've got a lot of good short stories. This suitcase is filled with science fiction."