When researching the man behind the Playboy brand it is admirable to see the way Hugh Hefner had a vision from an early age and grafted until it became a reality. I believe, like his mother, that he knew he was onto something big, hence his determination, and I am grateful for his impact on the magazine market.
Hugh Hefner shouldn’t be labelled as the man who introduced nudity onto our supermarket shelves, but as the man who used his initiative and built an empire from very little. He came from humble beginnings and worked hard from the get go taking a gamble to put everything he had into the first issue. It is inspiring the way he found a gap in the market, something that would entertain and bring to discussion a complete taboo. I think for society the discussion of sex should be more open; how else is a healthy relationship and education going to be achieved with the topic? Playboy had lost its way with pornography creeping in as it wanted to be more risky than Penthouse; but an intention to promote the more natural woman is being brought back to focus.
There is much debate to whether Hefner pursued in defining masculinity, however all he really did was put himself into the magazine. It just so happened that he wasn’t alone in his appreciation of a beautiful woman and topics such as sport and nightlife. Playboy through the years, in my opinion, has been like a safe haven for men, a hyperreality which allows them to escape the difficulties of life and some very angry feminists. Unfortunately Hefner’s approach to men’s magazines has not been very successfully translated into the UK market with ‘lad’s mags’ such as Zoo being labelled as cheap and explicit even by their male audience.
On the modesty bag debate, I think the pursuit to censor is seriously concerning for society. It is just another feminist pressure group using ‘lad’s mags’ as a scapegoat for a much larger issue of withstanding inequality. This censoring can only have a knock on effect; if we are trying to avoid sexualisation in magazines then the women’s weekly Heat should have its ‘Torso of the Week’ removed as well, however this attack is only against men. The only good to come of the debate is to get such magazines to recognise the error in their ways as Playboy has.
The magazine market should be left alone; it should be a variety of opinions and interests, and as no girls are ‘harmed in the making’, and magazines don’t set out to offend, why should our freedom of expression be taken?