To some extent, as long as there has been a Martha Stewart Living, there have been people speaking ill of her, bashing her and what is thought to be her ideology. With the ImClone scandal, people have found new reasons to bash her. As I have yet to see any articles or people communicating positive things about her, I shall rise to the stand and do so.
In all fairness, I will admit to being biased in writing this article. I am a five year subscriber to the magazine (with additional related magazines being purchased shortly after publication) and as is such I am clearly fond of it and the person behind it. In the last five years, given just the fact that I am a man and read the magazine, I have been ridiculed, scorned, mocked and have had my sexual preferences questioned, amongst other things. Above all, however, people have always felt the need to criticize either Martha or the magazine. There are a few sorts of criticism usually involved.
She is a "perfectionist"
The criticism is that she is a perfectionist, to the extent that someone who has obsessive compulsive disorder can be at times. Some thoughts on this: Since when has doing things in a half-serious manner been a commendable thing? If one were to order a Ming vase online, and it came carefully wrapped with detailed information included on the vase and how one would return it in the event of a problem, would anyone cry "perfectionist?" Unlikely.
The engineers who ready a space ship, examine every detail to make sure that it will function properly – are they criticized for "perfectionism," or even tagged with such a label? Of course not. Why, then, should it be any different for something like cooking, or home organizing? There is some inherent suggestion being made that the culinary arts and homemaking are less than important in the life of an individual. One writer went as far as to suggest that he wanted to publish the "good enough" cookbook, advice on making food that would be "good enough," so to speak, because Martha wouldn’t be at the meal, after all. This to me suggests that the writer involved cares so little about the recipients of the food that anything vaguely edible would suffice. Verily, for if you don’t want to "waste’ your time getting a recipe right, you might as well throw off that handsome blue Harrod’s apron and go to the frozen food section of the supermarket. Making a home livable through organization solutions, again, might not seem so "important" – but then when you need a receipt for tax purposes, you will surely wish you were better organized.
The High Standard of Living Imposed
The complaint made is that she imposes a high standard lifestyle which is impossible for a normal human being to achieve. Simply put, there is a world of difference between a periodical that offers tips and advice on ways to do things and something "imposing a high standard lifestyle." If there is any imposition, it is self-imposed. Nobody reads Popular Mechanics and complains that a mechanically-able lifestyle is being imposed on them, replete with requisite do-it-yourself oil changes, tool sheds built from the ground up, and lawnmower care. If you choose to build the shed, you take on that task yourself. If you want to bake your own layer cakes, that one issue of Living is the one to look for.
Return of the Eisenhower Administration
Another argument used is that which portrays Martha as someone trying to put women in the stereotypical 50’s role of homemaker. This argument, when offered to me, has almost never been made by anyone who has read the magazine itself – at best, its various parodies or the many articles condemning her. I restate the previous thought: the magazine is there, sitting pretty on the shelf, until you take out your billfold or purse or Batz Maru "DJ" coin purse and throw a few deerskins at the minimum wage clerk. Moreover, you have to pick it up and hand it over for them to scan it first. Tell me where I can find the masked man holding the gun to your head and forcing you to buy it and I promise you I will make him leave you alone. Further, I can attest as an owner of a sizable number of y chromosomes that I have never been barred from buying or reading the magazine – the content is gender neutral. The reader is usually not, however.
A brief word on the ImClone scandal. It is far easier to desecrate and ruin a creation than to make your own. Witness the large number of photographs of people with mustaches drawn on, or horns – easier to do that than to take a good photograph of a person. To dismiss a magazine or a human being is simple. To put forth effort and make a meaningful magazine worth reading – therein lays the difficult task. I read in the paper every day how they are getting "closer" to having enough evidence to arrest her – but what of it? Here is a different challenge: even if it were true that Martha herself was involved in the insider trading, would that make the tuna casserole suddenly fall apart, or an arrangement of flowers look any less attractive? If it were revealed tomorrow that, in fact, Shakespeare was one of the biggest creeps of his time period, and that he regularly spat on children just so he could watch them cry, would someone say, "Hey! Let’s stop reading the plays and the sonnets! He was a jerk!" Of course not.
Before lashing out at the magazine and its creator, take a good hour and read an issue over from front to back. I defy you to come away from it without having read one interesting article – without having learned at least one useful thing. I once thought it was a stupid little magazine – but then I read it.