Playboy – As you may have heard, Playboy is going to be non-nude starting with the March 2016 issue, which … means the models, celebrities and, yes, Playmates will not be naked for the first time since our founder Hugh Hefner laid out the first issue in 1953.
I’ve lived my whole life in the Boston area, which means I’m no stranger to the desire to hang onto obsolete, outdated institutions. This afterall, is the city that clings to an ancient ballpark for the privilege of saying Babe Ruth once stood on the pitcher’s mound we can’t see because we’re sitting behind an I-beam put there in 1912. We are a people that made a historic landmark out of an eyesore neon sign for a corrupt petroleum company that kills polar bears with fossil fuel exhaust. We as a culture do not let go of things easily.
That said, this move by Playboy is long overdue. We can celebrate the legacy of this once proud American hallmark, but in the Internet age, it’s an anachronism. In fact, it’s a wonder Playboy lasted as long as it did. The publication, to a world where instant porn is literally at your fingertips (well, the fingertips of one hand anyway), has become the equivalent of a travel agent, a video store or a post office.
Not that it doesn’t leave a legacy. If you’re under the age of say, 30, you’ll never fully be able to appreciate what Playboy meant to our lives. Every one of us holds cherished memories of coming across a dog-eared copy in the woods behind the school. Or finding where an older brother hid his stash, which was like discovering a pirate’s treasure. It taught me more about the female form than any other source. (Though not the baby making parts. Those always remained a mystery to the Playboy reader, right to the very end.) As you got older, the experience meant comparing and contrasting your favorite Playmates with your buddies. (Like my all time favorite, Roberta Vasquez from 1984 that we talked about well into the ’90s. Google her.) Then there was the rite of passage where my Beloved Irish Rose sent me out specifically to buy the Katarina Witt issue and I proudly walked into the convenience store and loudly asked the clerk for it, a free man, exercising his Free Speech with a marital blessing.
But alas, time marches on. Progress renders certain institutions irrelevant. Heavily photoshopped pictorials where the models’ skin has the glowing sheen of a hologram have no place in a virtual reality age. Even the amateur photo spreads, which were gold, are moot in a time when “The Girls of the Pac-10″ are all Web Cam girls who’ll come to you live doing anything you ask for short money. So this is long overdue.
I scarcely doubt anyone will read Playboy just for the interviews with authors and features on the best watches for under $1000 or whatever. So we might as well just call the time of death and send it off to the medical examiner. It did serve a useful purpose, but that time has long since passed. So it’s now that we say farewell. I could have told you Playboy, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.
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