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Cash Value of the Playboy Philosophy

Via Rod Dreher comes this GQ article on Hugh Hefner's son Marston, who is preparing for his first semester at college. The article bears reading, I suppose, as a cultural artifact; there is, after all, a frozen-in-amber quality to the atmosphere at the Playboy Mansion, one that goes beyond the decor and special features, which have passed unchanged from hip to dated to retro. Decadence is rather monotonous. The real reason to read it, however, is the revelation of just how pathetic the lifestyle turns out to be in the end: Hugh cannot recall the age of his children in a photo, and requires talking points about Marston in order to get through the interview, and sounds a mighty blast from the trumpet upon rising from his couch, wearied by the effort of having to talk about his own son:

Sounding the trumpet valedictory for the Playboy philosophy, ah reckon.

About what it's worth, too. Things of inestimable importance fell by the wayside, and so the entire thing amounts to so much noxious vapor. What a loser.

Comments (10)

Maximos is right on with this post. In this documentary about "Playboy" and Mr. Hefner: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104461/ there is a remarkable scene in which an interviewer asks Hef if he has any regrets about how "Playboy" helped usher in the 'sexual revolution'. Hef gives a surprisingly candid answer essentially admitting that the mystery and allure of sex post-"Playboy" has been cheapened and degraded. He doesn't, of course, mention the impact on families and children of the 'revolution', but as Maximos points out, it would probably drive him mad if he took full stock of the negative impact he has had both on Christine (who is a successful business-woman with no children to raise) and his later kids.

That is a revealing admission on his part. In order to keep sex sexy, we need to keep it mysterious, which means keeping it private, instead of splashed all over the pages of magazines - this, at least, is the implication, though he hasn't quite reasoned that far.

One hopes, though, that he retains the capacity to recognize the harm he has done.

Does anyone know if there any studies of the long term effects of p*rn exposure on male sexual function? Even more interestingly, what about effects on p*rn actors? I had heard, or thought that I had heard, that a famous p*rnographer, possibly Hefner or some other famous one, couldn't actually complete coitus in the... erm... normal (i.e., fecund) way. (Let's define that action as A), but instead was reduced to relying almost exclusively on method Z (a method that needs no further description). Of course, given his current age, it would probably require a veritable pharmacopia to even start either process, but... anyway the gist was that high levels of exposure actually desensitized the appropriate parts so completely that it was practically impossible to perform A, that stimulation became a process so delicately nuanced that only one expert person (method Z) could acheive climax. It's sick, no doubt, but if this is largely true would make for an interesting Natural Law argument contra p*rn. This is of course a supremely difficult topic for which to google.

Is anybody else questioning Dreher's integrity for casually picking up a GQ? I mean, I was under the impression that magazine was p*rn.

Steve N,
Both _Pornified_ by Pamela Paul and _Getting Off_ by Robert Jensen address this question, although their information is almost entirely anecdotal-- when studies of the effects of porn were done in the 70s, the effects were so clearly negative that such studies are now considered unethical.
Bethany C

Those who thrill at violating taboo are slow to discover that the thrill depends on the taboo, and that they're sawing off the branch they're sitting on. By the time they realize it, they're incapable of deriving much pleasure from a thing on which they are now hopelessly dependent. In Hefner, you're watching the final, pathetic throes of a silk-robed Gollum, clutching wretchedly at his Precious. He deserves our pity as much as our scorn.

I was under the impression that magazine [GQ] was p*rn.

Only if your gay, I think.

In Hefner, you're watching the final, pathetic throes of a silk-robed Gollum, clutching wretchedly at his Precious. He deserves our pity as much as our scorn.

Sage Mclaughlin hits another one out of the park. Well said, and it immediately rings true.

Aren't GQ and Playboy covers practically the same? That's all I have to go on. That and the people in college who read either. Or does the "don't judge a book . . ." mantra hold for mags too?

As you look at the first version of that documentary on my life that A&E did, called American Playboy, you can see the children’s toys in the great hall.

Moving past the self-agrandizing fashion in which Hef cites early editions of documentaries about himself... "toys in the great hall" are his evidence that he was a hands-on father?

"which have passed unchanged from hip to dated to retro."

So true.

The only subcsriber in my demagraphic (25-35) that I know is gay. He really does read Playboy for the articles... I found this out when he casually brought in the nude DVD one apparently gets for subscribing to offer it to any of our co-workers who would have an interest in it. Interestingly, there were no enthusiastic takers.

Not for fear of exposing their cards as being into prurient or deviant behaviors mind you (the workplace environment had been judged an appropriate venue for a porno-giveaway, after all!), the comments of the disinterest evinced were to the affect (I will spare the more graphic explinations!) "This is not a real porno!" Apparently, anything less than "hardcore porno" is laughably juvenile and not worth it even at the price of "Free to a good home".

Ironicly, Hugh's Frankenstein Monster escaped the mansion and went into the village to wreak havoc he could not stop. His early racy and provacative pin ups is to modern hardcore pornography what Betty Page pin-ups are to the bathings suits found at any beach in California - almost laughable tame. Where then is his niche?

I wish that I could say I was such a careful steward of my time and brain cells that I could tell you I have never seen the "reality TV show" produced of Hef's "three girlfriends". Like a train wreck, I have found myself sucked into and captivated by the unreality of it all more than once. I am always looking to see if there is any evidence of transcendent values not based on consumption or sex (that escapes the editing room floor)... To date, no.

But you do catch some poorly edited shots that show how Hefner has lost his mythical vitality and is just another mortal and unhip octagenarian, albeit one who was allowed to somehow create and live in a mythical world of his own creation... One now occupied by marginally successful 37 year olds (Judy McCullogh) who have marginally successful stand-up careers who - as former playmates - have lifetime rights to return to the mansion to hang out or stay for a time.

The sadness and reality of it all are revealed in small glimpses of former playmates - well past their prime - with little direction milling about in the background... Or an aged Hef (now age-appropriately clad in his pajamas and bathrobe) feebly holding unto a diet Coke with both hands and making an effort to sip from the straw... Or when (his hearing aide not being enough) he struggles to comprehend what is being said to him as he looks blankly and asks for clarification.

But at this late age it is hard to feel anything but sorrow for the man. He is so well insulated - like a trust fund baby or the last of the old world aristocracy still living off of what is left in the wine cellar - that he can still appear to be enviable. In fact he is mostly in a prison of his own creating, like so many wealthy people who so easily lose touch with reality. But when he is alone with his thoughts, and looking at his life, if he is not disappointed with much, he is all too sad.

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