Monday, October 19, 2015

Week of 10/19/2015

The Death Of Playboy
The end of 2015 will mark a sad passing for thousands of readers, including this commentator.
It will mark the end of Playboy Magazine as we all know it.
Playboy Magazine started in 1953 with its first centerfold being the legendary Marilyn Monroe, seen in a way that only fans wished they could see her.
For over sixty years, Playboy Magazine provided readers with a balanced mix of intelligence and beauty.  Intelligence in the articles and interviews and fictional stories, and beauty in the form of beautiful women presented as the girls-next-door that readers only wished were living next door.
And, yes, these beautiful women were naked.  They didn’t always show “everything”, certainly not for the first two decades, but as the Sexual Revolution continued, the “lines” were slowly dropped, along with the modesty.
It wasn’t without resistance, of course.  Hypersensitive and hypocritical housewives, self-righteous ministers, corrupt politicians, fascist police officials all tried to shut Playboy down.  Students at my alma matter, Saint Anselm College, actually did a book burning in the 1960’s to supposedly “rid the community” of Playboy Magazine.  There were not one but two special commissions under two different presidents to try to shut down Playboy Magazine.  They all failed.  Every single one of them failed.
Not even a stroke by founder Hugh Hefner could stop the magazine from giving readers that balance of intelligence and beauty. 
And now all of that is about to end.  The Playboy Magazine that we grew up with, that our fathers and grandfathers read, the one that inspired iconic clubs and launched the careers of models and actresses, not to mention the whole James Bond “007” franchise, and served as muses for soldiers from the Vietnam War to the Iraq War, is about to die.
And its murderer goes by the name of Scott Flanders.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be a publication named “Playboy Magazine” that will still be published in 2016.  It will still use the same iconic rabbit-head logo.  It will still have articles and interviews and models that they will dub “Playmates”.
But it won’t be the same magazine we all knew and grew up with, because it won’t have the nudity.
Mister Flanders thinks that he can “rebrand” Playboy by getting rid of the nudity as a way to keep the publication on the shelves and keep people reading it.  He’s far from the first to suggest that asinine idea, but he is the one that somehow convinced Hefner to go along with it.
His rationality, though, is far from sane.
“You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” he said. “And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”
Excuse me?  You’re blaming this on the Internet?
I can go to the corner grocery store and buy wine for $3.  Does that mean that Moet should stop producing champagne?  I can make soda at home.  Does that mean that Coca-Cola should stop making it?  I can make cappuccino at home.  Does that mean that Starbucks should just go out of business?
But somehow, because people can view sex online for free, you think that it justifies you removing high-quality photos featuring beautiful women in various forms of undress from a print publication that has been doing so since 1963.
And don’t think for a minute, Mister Flanders, that somehow Playboy helped make the Internet what it is today!  Playboy was not a part of the ACLU v. Reno decision from 1996 that gave the Internet the fullest protection under the First Amendment.  I know this, sir, because I was one of the 70,000-plus plaintiffs in that lawsuit that included big corporations like IBM and Apple and Microsoft and Intel, but did not include any of the adult publications. 
By the way, you’re welcome for that legal victory.  Playboy may not have been a part of that lawsuit, but the philosophy that originally guided that magazine and helped mold the Sexual Revolution helped open the doors that you and your other Big Corporate friends have been meticulously shutting for these past few years.  It was the Playboy with the nudity and the philosophy that said it was okay that inspired people to push the limits and to keep the doors open that you and your Big Corporate friends are shutting.
That is what you have murdered, Mister Scott Flanders.  And it sickens me to know that you’re able to get away with it.
Let’s get brutally honest here... what Mister Flanders is doing is killing the very thing that made Playboy what it is.  Playboy Magazine succeeded because of its balance.  Because it sold itself as a magazine for men that appealed to both sides of a man’s mind.  And now that you’re killing that part, Mister Flanders, what does that make Playboy into?  Just another boring publication.
If we wanted skin-free images, we would’ve stuck with fitness magazines and Sports Illustrated.  We even would’ve been buying the women’s magazines since they show what you’re covering up.
It’s insulting that ESPN’s magazine will be showing more than Playboy after December.  It’s insulting that we can see more of Kim Kardashian in a half-dozen publications than we ever did in Playboy and now ever will.  It’s damnably insulting that the Playboy Magazines in other nations will continue to show nudity while the home publication that started it all won’t.
“Passe”, sir?  No, it’s media gentrification.  It’s an asinine appeal to a supposed most-common-denominator by making it as generic as possible and hoping people will still flock to it.
Pretty much every new online advance has been hit with this kind of censorship.  Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube have all been censored.  Google and Apple stores have apps that are skin-free.  You can have the Playboy bunny... as a wallpaper or some countdown clock... or in non-nude images and videos.  Mister Flanders and the rest of Big Corporate have been cock-blocking the world one app at a time.
You want nudity?  You have to pay for it.  If you have a credit card, that is.  And you won’t find it in the online stores.  You’ll have to search for it.  And if you want it “for free”, then you have to deal with ads and pop-ups and the continual threat of malware that infect your computer like an STD.  Oh, you’ll pay for it, one way or another.
Playboy used to have a website that reflected the magazine.  I was invited to serve as one of the Alpha testers for that website, and one of the things that I complimented the administrators on was their ability to reflect everything that the magazine stood for in that website.  Sadly, the Cyber Club was sold out to some third-party group and remade into a something that barely reflects what the magazine used to stand for.
Playboy used to have a subscription TV channel that reflected the magazine.  Sadly, that was sold off as well and now only exists in name and logo.  Anything connected to the magazine has been replaced or pushed aside, and, after this year, it will have almost nothing in common with the publication except for that name and logo.
Take away the very thing that a brand represents and what do you have?  Just an empty image.  You have a shell, a sham, a fraud.  That is what Playboy Magazine will be after 2015.  A fraud with a rabbit-head logo.
I will not be supporting the fraud that will call itself “Playboy Magazine” next year.  My long-running subscription will run out and as long as Mister Flanders and his ilk are in charge of so much as a paper clip for that publication, they will not get my money.  I will mourn what Playboy used to be, and I will curse the imposter that will be put in its place.


BrentSTL said...

As I have said elsewhere, if I wanted to read a magazine that appeals to frat boys/bros/idiots/The Willfully Ignorant/YouNameIt, I'd had gone and bought it.

I have no idea how much influence Hef had on this decision and I may not want to know. As you said, it'll be *called* Playboy, but it'll be a cheap, pale imitation of what it USED to stand for. Like you, I won't be supporting it.

Permission to put this on the PML if you haven't yet?

David 2 said...

Thank you for your comment on this, Brent. And, sorry, but I already submitted a link to the PML.

BrentSTL said...

Just saw that David. Thanks.

To say the least, this is NOT a good omen for Playboy...