If I had a fourteen-year-old son, I’d be pretty disturbed by the news that Nuts magazine might fold. Fortunately, I don’t, and in all likelihood, I won’t have a fourteen-old-son until the late 2030s. Goodness knows what pornography will be like by then – my bets are on touchscreen technology leading the way.
But for now, I can only imagine what it might be like to have a fourteen-year-old son. And faced with the closure of Nuts (and with Zoo teetering near the edge), I’d be lamenting the decline of the lad mag.
Teenage boys (and teenage girls – who are just as curious, mind) are experts at tracking down smut. When I was younger, these sorts of magazines were passed around school. Boys would keep them in their lockers, and occasionally they would be brought out to solicit a reaction from the girls. By the time I was doing my GCSEs, most people had a laptop, and smut was disseminated via groaning hard drives (brought back from the Far East during school holidays). It was transferred from computer to computer by memory stick. In my final year, the iPhone arrived – the death knell for the lads’ mag. Soft-core magazines must now seem like small fry to your average teenage boy. The combination of fast mobile data (which schools are unable to regulate) and high-tech, high-definition phones is a schoolboy’s dream.
The internet is a Pandora’s box of wicked delights dreamt up by a coterie of perverts, weirdos and sadists. Nuts and Zoo may not be Britain’s most salubrious publications – but ‘Your Favourite Hotties Baring Their Botties’ now look positively angelic compared to what lurks online. Equally, Page 3 may not be Fleet Street’s most wholesome institution. But young boys (and girls) – like well-trained truffle pigs – can sniff out exotic material. And if it’s no longer to be found in print, they will snuffle elsewhere. Smart phones and tablets are already their hunting ground; the closure of lads’ mags will only increase this. And no one will be able to tell what they are looking at. But you can bet it will be a lot fruitier than whatever Nuts chose to print.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.