Playboy long ago helped to usher in a sexual renaissance, when founder Hugh Hefner presented the public with a magazine featuring provocatively posed nude women, and it seems we are now seeing the end of that era. Hefner gave his official seal of approval after Playboy editor Cory Jones went to Hugh with the idea.
The war for sexual freedom seemed unwinnable decades ago, but now, aided by the advent of the internet, sexuality in all of its forms, perversions, and persuasions is easily accessible, Playboy Chief Executive Scott Flanders said, according to the New York Times.
“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” the Playboy executive said. “And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”
Generations ago, boys coming into their teens turned to Playboy and its centerfolds to educate themselves on the fairer sex and to lose the first bits of naivete, but today’s maturing male, as well as others seeking similar content, have any number of options open to them. In an age where most people have access to smartphones, computers, and tablets, it seems redundant and self-defeating for Playboy to continue on as though it’s business as usual.
There was a measure of risk in presenting nude models to the public when Hugh Hefner rolled out those first Playboy issues generations ago, partly because of the shock value of the material presented in Playboy’s slickly glossed pages, but also because the magazine catered to a need. Playboy now faces a new challenge. If Playboy, as well respected for its articles as it has been known for its pictorials, is to survive, Playboy must again become culturally relevant and perhaps find new ways to add shock to substance.
One reason for Playboy’s continued success in surviving generations of social change must be attributed to Hugh Hefner’s talent for branding his magazine’s now infamous logo. The Playboy Bunny logo is as recognizable as the Nike logo and the logos for Apple or Windows. Even beyond the issue of nude models, there is no doubt that Playboy still heavily influences society and the media, as the Boston Globe points out.
“A judge once ruled that denying blind people a Braille version of it violated their First Amendment rights. It published stories by Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami among others, and its interviews have included Malcolm X, Vladimir Nabokov, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter… Madonna, Sharon Stone and Naomi Campbell posed for the magazine at the peak of their fame. Its best-selling issue, November 1972, sold more than 7 million copies.”
It seems that, even without nude centerfolds revealing their most intimate likes and dislikes, Playboy still has so much to offer, but can a magazine known so infamously for its adult content succeed at going straight? While Playboy’s circulation may have dropped significantly through the years, that drop may have less to do with its stimulating content and more to do with Playboy’s archaic print magazine format.
Dear Playboy, keep the nudes and embrace the digital age.
[Featured image courtesy of Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy]