Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hugh Hefner: Moral Arbiter of Our Age

It's true, or at least that's what Algis Valiunas argues at Commentary, "The Playboy and His Western World":



Most every man in the known world has at least glimpsed a Playboy centerfold, and thereupon has vowed to go out and get himself something similar in a real live girl, or perused the luscious goods until the magazine has fallen into tatters, or run to confess his pollution to unsympathetic religious personnel, or cried “Death to America” and placed his hope in the eternal succor of 72 virgins, each of whom is the spitting image of the whorish temptress in the picture. Hugh Hefner, the inventor of Playboy, has sold his idea of what sex should be with the winning fervor of a true believer, and while not exactly everyone has bought into it, he has enticed multitudes into his fold with the promise of as much pleasure as a body can manage in a lifetime, all of it perfectly innocent, of course. And what sensible person, playboy or playgirl, could possibly want anything better?

He has written, “In this century, America liberated sex. The world will never be the same.” Hefner himself is the Great Emancipator and the most influential figure that American popular culture has produced; no actor or movie director or singer or athlete has moved the life of our time as potently as he. Indeed, one is hard pressed to name more than three or four figures from the more serious precincts of our modern public life who have had an effect of comparable magnitude. Only in America can a man whose declared ambitions were to bed innumerable beautiful women and get rich in the process make a mark deeper than those left by great writers or leading thinkers or most presidents. That this should be so might well appall writers and thinkers and most presidents, but they would have to acknowledge that Hefner got hold of the fundamental American longing as no one else had before. Americans have always pursued happiness, usually without any clear idea of what they were after; Hefner demonstrated that it could be not only pursued but also captured, and he posted photographs of the quarry for proof. The sexual revolution, the defining uprising of our time, is his brainchild; others stand at his shoulder in the leadership, but he is the founding father of the orgasmic republic.
My dad kept Playboy at home, and that was some endorsement --- my old man was conservative! I guess that's why I'm a bit of a libertarian on these things, although like R.S. McCain, obviously, I tell my teenage boy to hold the horses until he's older.

Another interesting tidbit from
the article:
Hefner was seducing his readership with a wholenovel way of life. To fulfill “modern man’s need for a new, more realistic, rational, human, and humane sexual morality” was his grand aim, as he would state in “The Playboy Philosophy,” a series of 25 turgid essays that ran from 1962 to 1965. The new practice would have a prolix if not exactly profound theoretical foundation. Hefner wanted to restore the primal innocence of the two things Americans had endowed with the glamour of wickedness: sex and money. Sex outside of marriage was to become the norm; the playboy was to be a materially successful man who knew how toenjoy his wealth, largely by spending it on delicious playgirls. Hef sought to save other men from the trap in which he had been caught. The nude centerfolds, called Playmates, served the project handsomely: the subjects were “the freshest, most all--American looking girls we can find,” “the photographic dream girls for a large part of our male population,” and their eagerness to expose themselves to public view proved that “nice girls like sex, too.”
FOOTNOTE: At first I was going solo with the screencap, but checking Wikipedia turned up the picture of Hef with Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt.

BONUS: Don't you just
love neocons!


Dennis said...

I enjoyed "Playboy" when I was a young man. Once his daughter took over, to me, it just became a little better that "Hustler." The joy of sex, as well as many other things in life, is in the imagination and discovery of that which you have only scant knowledge and a desire to learn.
One of the best things I remember is when a reader posed the question, "Why buy the cow when the milk is free?" The answer was, "Because you can get a lot of sour milk." It was and is good advice.
Unlike Clinton and his actions, women are not throw away items. They are to be loved, enjoyed and be an important partner in one's life.

Rusty Walker said...

I have subscribed to Playboy for years. Every time I am about to cancel they come out with some retrospective of all the covers, or centerfolds from years past, or some memorable issue on football or something. The girls were much sexier 20 years ago when they weren’t all enhanced and Photoshopped into something unreal; they all look the same. The magazine is far from politically conservative. The articles are consistently leftist. It can be a put-off, but usually I don’t mind reading and learning what the left has to say (Although I can’t take the leftist assumptions from news publications like Newsweek or Time anymore). Hefner is an American icon. He is refined, well spoken on his subject of sexual liberation, has good taste in women and jazz, and has my respect.

roll. amoedo said...

this kind of power is the one that has to come back. no other nation has it and it resembles the american dream that most want. it is as powerful as it gets, because it is far more desired than being the u.s president for example.