Leafing through a recent issue of the best-smelling [sic] magazine Vanity Fair in The Stranger's office, I came upon a blow-in subscription card for the ritzy publication. On said blow-in, in all caps, are the misguided words FREE GIFT. I griped about this and other redundant phrases in a Slog post that drew a lot of ire back in the innocent days of early December. I noted that it's become an all-too-common psychological ploy in the marketing world, even though a gift is, you know, something given from one person to another for $0.00. Pretty simple concept, when you think about it. "Free" in this context is as superfluous as tax cuts to billionaires.
One expects better from Vanity Fair, an august publication whose ads for goods and services it would take two lifetimes' worth of paychecks to afford and whose features on politics and culture reflect a high degree of intelligence and rigor, thanks in part to the editorship of Graydon Carter (who's resigning in December after 25 years at the helm, but not over this "FREE GIFT" fiasco).
Of course, in magazines, editorial and sales are different departments, but standards are standards, and to see "FREE GIFT" in association with Vanity Fair causes one to wince. Nevertheless, the holiday issue on stands now has some interesting pieces on O.J. Simpson's not-very-good post-prison life, Melania Trump's misery as FLOTUS, Edie Sedgwick's fateful meeting with Andy Warhol, the downfall of political journalist Mark Halperin, and the decline and shadiness of Trump Tower.