We live in a time period where it might be considered politically incorrect to praise the president and CEO of a nude magazine. But that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Hugh Hefner spent the better part of five decades perfecting and then keeping alive the same magazine. In this time of technology with information at your fingertips print media is considered an endangered species. Moreover he revolutionized a society and forced change in a time when everything including the government was placing obstacles in his way.
The first and most memorable issue of Playboy magazine featured Marilyn Monroe. The pictures used were of when she was of an unknown calendar model who had busted into the movie business with her bouncing blondeness leading the way. It wasn’t until several years into Playboy’s production that they determined just stop buying Photos from calendar creators and start shooting their own models. The 1950s where a time of incredible conservatism and repression. Flying in the face of this was a fledgling magazine that dared the company man to lay down money for lifestyle advice and a look at the girl next-door.
When the 60s arrived Hugh Hafner expanded his business to include nightclubs and a television show called Playboy After Dark. These two wings of the Playboy company we’re driving forces behind racial integration. Musicians like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Sammy Davis Junior all made appearances at these locations. They played for audiences both white and black anytime when that would be considered outrageous and in some states illegal.
What will sadly be the focus instead of his achievements in the field of civil rights and entrepreneurialism is the misunderstood production and distribution of naked photos. In actuality he created hey men’s magazine that featured new photos of women beside articles written by some of the greatest minds of our time. He will be called hey pimp, hey pornographer, and the smoke peddler when he should be heralded as someone who lives his dream in as classier fashion as was possible. Are there hints and rumors of malfeasance at the Playboy mansion, yes. Yet throughout those years and through various investigations Hugh remained ever cooperative and determined to preserve the integrity of his creation.
One needs to only look at his competitor Larry Flynt of hustler magazine to see just how disgusting and classless the industry can truly be. When brought up on charges I’m distributing pornography Larry went on to desecrate the American flag and denigrate our judicial system. Hugh on the other hand used every run in with the law as an opportunity to advance the cause of the freedom of expression and freedom of the press. It may not be the popular opinion today and certainly was not when the magazine was created, however Playboy is an example of that very freedom.
Hugh Hefner was an American icon for his fierce devotion to living his dream and no one else’s. We can only hope that in his absence the Playboy Empire continues to maintain integrity and the social commentary that made it famous. Recently his passing has been spoofed buy the comments,” he’s the only person that will die and can’t say that he’s going to a better place and”. He created the heaven on earth any live every moment to the fullest clad in his soap pajamas and captains hat he led the dream most men would long for.
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