Playboy Magazine: From Lewdness to Perversion
In many ways, the story of Playboy Magazine is the story of the sexual revolution, from its first cover featuring Marilyn Monroe in 1953 to its current cover featuring a gay man dressed as a Playboy bunny. It is the story of moral degeneration, from lewdness to perversion. I wonder how all the hot-blooded, heterosexual male Playboy readers will fancy this bold new cover?
When Playboy Stopped Publishing Images With Nudity
In my 2017 book Saving a Sick America, I noted that on October 12 and 13, 2015, the internet lit up with headlines: “’Playboy’ to stop publishing nude photos” (USA Today); “No more naked women in print Playboy” (Business Insider); “Playboy magazine abandons nudity” (Telegraph, UK); “Playboy magazine to stop publishing pictures of naked women” (The Guardian).
After 62 years of featuring nudes, Playboy was no longer going to display pictures of naked women in its magazine. But from the standpoint of moral values, this was actually bad news, not good news.
As one supporter of nude photos explained, “we live in a world where all the world’s porn is like three mouse clicks away, and most of it is totally free. In a world like that, Playboy is redundant at best and embarrassing at worst.” And remember: it was a supporter of nude pictures who wrote this.
Playboy was not abandoning nude pictorials because society had become more moral. It was abandoning these pictorials because society had become so immoral that Playboy’s relatively mild pornography was no longer a draw. Pornography of the most sordid kind was freely available everywhere, so who needed pictures of nude women in Playboy? Porn was now ubiquitous.
Playboy had helped swing the door wide open, and what followed was a flood of ever-degenerating filth, often at the primary expense of women.
Not a Good Sign
Accordingly, Max Benwell’s article on the UK’s Independent site was titled, “Why you should be worried about Playboy dropping naked women from its pages,” with the subtitle reading, “This isn’t a clear moral victory, but yet another reminder of the huge power wielded by mainstream pornography.”
Benwell noted that when Playboy dropped nudes from its website in August, 2015, that “caused its traffic to quadruple.” People were now drawn to the articles and not distracted by the relatively benign pictures.
He continued, “The magazine becoming never-nude is heartening for anyone who cares about the media’s constant objectification of women. But no-one should pretend that this is a moral victory. Playboy, acting as any business would, dropped the nudes because there’s no demand for them any more. The free market argument that supported their continued existence turned on them. But this isn’t because we’re all reading feminist zines on Tumblr now; there’s no demand for them because too many people are watching free online porn instead.”
But it didn’t take long for Playboy to reverse its decision and return to its central nude features.
Playboy “Reclaiming” Its “Identity”
As reported by the BBC in February 2017, “Playboy magazine has announced it is bringing back nudity, reversing a decision made last year.
“The move was announced by Playboy’s new chief creative officer Cooper Hefner, who said the decision to remove nudity entirely ‘was a mistake’.
“‘Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are,’ he tweeted.
“The US magazine also promoted its March-April edition with a picture of its playmate of the month with the hashtag #NakedIsNormal.”
It looks like Playboy without nudity was like a beach without water or like a sports stadium without teams to play. So much for the overall quality of their publication. And so much for readers subscribing primarily because of the amazing articles.
Still, in many ways, Playboy was behind the times (at least, as reported by others in terms of the sexual content; this is something I do not check on). It was not lewd enough. Not racy enough. Not pushing the boundaries enough. And, at the least, not current.
Now, 68 years after the magazine’s first issue, headlines are announcing, “Bretman Rock Makes History as First Out Gay Male to Cover Playboy: It’s ‘a Huge Deal’.”
As People reported: “Social media star Bretman Rock is no stranger to breaking barriers. The 23-year-old influencer nabbed the cover of Playboy‘s digital magazine, making him the first openly gay man to don the complete bunny suit for the cover.”
There you have it. A 23-year-old gay man, dressed in a women’s bunny suit and posing sensually, is featured on the front cover. (Please don’t tell me he’s featured in the centerfold too.)
To be clear, “While Playboy says Rock isn’t the first man to appear on the magazine cover, he is the first who openly identifies as part of the LGBTQ community and the first male to don the full suit. Bad Bunny has previously been featured on the cover, while Ezra Miller appeared in bunny ears for his feature with the magazine.”
Another Playboy landmark, indeed — this time, with a deeper foray into perversion.
The Sexual Revolution’s Legacy of Moral Disease
There’s an old saying that sin will also take you further than you intended to go. It will keep you longer than you intended to stay. And it will cost you more than you intended to pay.
The same can be said of the sexual revolution. May the Lord have mercy on its millions of victims, many of whom ended up in places they never expected to go. (How many people celebrate being addicted to porn, to give one example out of many?) May Bretman Rock have a life-changing encounter with the Lord Himself.
And may we learn to celebrate a healthy sexuality, within the bonds of marriage, one man and woman together for life, as intended by God. Our Maker really knows best.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.