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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Feb 18th, 2016

THE SEX FILES: I have come not to praise Playboy

Playboy

The new Playboy arrived in my mail this week. I say new because this is the first of that venerable men’s mag not to feature a nude model and it seems the magazine will continue this way into the future. Am I saddened by the omission of female skin, surely I am, do I want to see some skin? Yes, as a hetero guy I kinda like looking at comely firm booties and boobies. But what’s more troubling to me is the wholesale gutting of the magazine. How it appears now a shadow of its former self in too many ways. How it is attempting to chase that which it cannot be and how once again, the flaccid sensibilities we have all adopted from this thing we call the Internet is destroying something we once held so near and dear and was damn well necessary to our survival.

There is just less of Playboy in the new Playboy. The “Adviser” is down to a page, the interview truncated, Playboy jokes gone. The magazine has literally lost its gloss, it is smaller even and if you were to pick up this mag without its cover or masthead you’d be hard pressed to know exactly what publication this was. The word on the street is the powers-that-be at Playboy are finding its model passé (see the quote that follows), the magazine is selling less than it ever has and hoping to catch millennials with a challenge to Maxim or Vogue and the like, Hef and company are putting forth what they feel is this best effort. But there is not enough of what we had come to expect, whole sections eliminated and yes the centerfold (such that she is) only shows her bare ass!

As Rolling Stone rolled from a music mag to liberal rag, GQ has become more a collection of ads from men’s wear designers and The New York Post and The New York Times’ political agenda outweighs their news reporting, I guess we can say that all things get coopted and corrupted over time. I had always hoped though that Playboy, the high end-iest of dirty mags, would remain true to what it had always been. Hugh Hefner was a guy who had taken on all kinds of critics, had championed civil rights, had built an empire going his own way at all times. What is he serving-up now?

In the end, I think the boobs and booties are at the heart of this, but not in the way you may think a dirty old man like me would be complaining about. Less a case of not seeing enough female skin anymore (and by enough I mean any really) the bunny corp. simply feels they can’t compete with the net for the showing of salacious material…so why show any really between their pages? The corp.’s CEO Scott Flanders said: “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.” But Scott, dude, you have thrown the baby out with the bathwater by taking the very heart from this magazine. Yes, some of us really did read Playboy for the articles, articles that seemed so much cooler (and really were) because of the butts and boobs, the ‘tude of the whole thing. In any given month you might get a new short story by the likes of an Ian Fleming, an Arthur C. Clarke, a Ray Bradbury or a Saul Bellow (to name just a few), along with tits; interviews with John Lennon and Jimmy Carter, as well as featured controversial and often times ‘blue’ comedians; showcased cartoons from Shel Silverstein, Jules Feiffer and Jack Cole, some naughty, some political, some fantastic (Hef, himself a cartoonist, was most sympathetic to keeping the cartoons in the change-up-but was convinced that the new magazine should not have cartoons…wtf Hef?)

I dare say Playboy was subversive…and it ain’t no more. In its continued homogenizing of our culture, the PC-ing where God knows we didn’t need any more PC-ing, the making every damn thing too available that makes nothing much interesting anymore, the net eroded the ethos at Playboy and allows the bunny men and women to actually think what they have published is worth consumer dollars (they won’t be getting any more of mine once the year on my subscription runs out.)

I wish I could say I have come to praise Playboy, but I feel I am here more to mourn it. And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump. ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’

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THE SEX FILES: I have come not to praise Playboy