In dissecting the legacy of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who died last week of natural causes at 91, one need look no further than a single-page advertisement his magazine carried for years. The ad consisted simply of Playboy touting itself to potential advertisers, boasting of the enormous revenue to be made pitching their products to successful, up-and-coming men.
It would always begin, “What Sort of Man Reads Playboy?” Good question.
According to the magazine, their readers are mostly young, urban, highly sophisticated men who love travel, sports, fine dining, fashion, etc. They are financially well off and, not surprisingly, most of the ads show the typical Playboy reader in the company of one or more beautiful women.
Sigh. . . If only. Everyone knows that the life of the average porn consumer is not so glamorous. Clearly, a real international playboy would not have the need – or the time – to drool over a monthly collection of air-brushed fantasies. Playboy has always held itself up as the gold standard in female nudity – in fact, they don’t even consider themselves pornography. Granted, compared to Hustler and other publications that followed, Playboy is certainly tame.
But Hugh Hefner cannot divorce himself from the filth and porn addiction left in Playboy’s wake. For about a year starting in 2016, Playboy decided to stop featuring full female nudity, claiming that with porn just a click away on any electronic device, the war had been won. That decision was later reversed, but magazine executives were correct – female nudity is almost passe. That is where Hefner’s legacy leaves the sophisticated, party-time 60’s and 70’s and takes porn consumers (i.e., addicts) to a dark, lonely place. Porn use thrives on tasting forbidden fruit – once naked women become socially acceptable, graphic depictions of sex acts take the user down to a more thrilling rung.
Playboy has robbed millions of men of the joy of innocence and ultimate discovery, leaving generations of males jaded but inexperienced. Playboy readers and modern-day porn consumers are just as likely to be living in their parents’ basements, fantasizing to women that would never give them a second look. Many have never heard of such notions as courting or wooing a girl, while we, as a culture, consider sexual deviance a sure sign of sophistication and progress. Numerous books and articles detail the perils of porn addiction, and most addicts will agree, it is an empty. loveless place. Porn use by its nature is a selfish pastime that draws the user ever deeper into himself. The Playboy lifestyle masquerades as a never-ending party, with each issue taunting the reader with a view of a world will he will never enter but enticing him just enough that he will always take another look.
The user will always have his computer screen to pass the time. The images on his phone almost pass for companionship. The thrill of the hunt will always keep the adrenaline pumping. Granted, not all porn consumers are sad, reclusive losers. Still, just consider that Hefner died a married man (his third marriage) — succumbing to an institution maligned and mocked by the sexual revolution he helped start. He lived by the creed, “Life is too short to live somebody else’s dream.” Exactly. The pertinent advice to porn users: live your own life and don’t build empires for pornographers. You are worthy of the love and affection a real woman can offer, not just repeated glimpses of paper-doll images.
What sort of man reads Playboy? Probably a lonely one.