The Times are A-Changin’ with Playboy

For Playboy, this isn’t an identity crisis as some have said so much as it is just a case of “adapt or die.” Photo Courtesy: Luca Rossato
For Playboy, this isn’t an identity crisis as some have said, it is just a case of “adapt or die.”
Photo Courtesy: Luca Rossato

By Paul Esquivel

As many of you already know, the popular men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine Playboy made a huge announcement recently that it no longer will include nude female images in its print format starting with its March issue.

Now everyone who used the excuse of reading it for the articles can say it and mean it.

Founded by Hugh Hefner, Playboy always has been a part of American pop culture since its controversial debut in 1953. Breaking boundaries in a time when female nudity was considered a bigger taboo than it is now. Playboy’s answer to everyone asking about the change in format is simple: “times change” and boy have they.

Playboy Chief Executive Officer Scott Flanders mentioned that Playboy is getting back to its “roots” as the No. 1 mainstream lifestyle brand. Like many magazine publications, reality is, Playboy is reacting to the way the Internet has changed the playing field. Consider Playboy’s 5.6 million circulation in 1975 and compare it to now, with tremendous fall to just 800,000 in a report from The Times. Whether it’s digital-news outlets like Vice Media or sites like PornHub that give almost every sexual category imaginable at just the click of a button, Playboy recognizes the need to change its dynamic.

By dropping the nude images, Playboy hopes not only to appeal to a broader and younger audience but also not be banned from access in the work place. In August of last year Playboy stopped including nude images on its website and traffic increased 250 percent. Playboy still will include a Playmate of the Month just with “PG-13” pictures and less produced aimed at the “sex-positive female.”

All these reasons make sense both financially and when it comes to relevance but a few quotes make me sad and no not the “Paul wants to see boobies” way sad, but when you realize certain things. Scott Flanders told The Times: “That battle (making the female body non taboo) has been fought and won… you’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free.”

While it’s true we have come a long way, the battle hasn’t been won, not by a long shot. Sites like Instagram take down pictures of women if their nipples are exposed and ban hashtags “Curvy” or whatever deemed too risqué. In the age of social media where everyone has a camera on their phone, almost anyone can be a porn star. All you have to do is record a video of you and your partner in the act of coitus and upload it to PornHub, YouPorn, or any site (the lists go on) like that for everyone to see. Unfortunately, many of these videos or pictures are uploaded without the female partner’s consent or knowledge a majority of the time.

There is no denying that Playboy at this point feels like your grandpa’s answer to porn, but that is where I say is the difference, it wasn’t just porn. Again these decisions all make perfect sense, but at the same time it feels like there was a battle lost too.

My point really is that anyone can fuck on camera, but not everyone can be a centerfold. It’s funny when you think about the fact that violence and gore is perfectly fine but almost everyone shudders when even speaking about sexuality unless it sells something. I get it though, maybe Playboy wants to separate itself from the label of pornography so when the people there say it is “classier” they can mean it.

My point is that Playboy was classier than most magazines and websites before this change. I’m not acting like there are no upsides to this like how people will be able to pull out an issue of Playboy in public just like someone reading a Maxim magazine in public, but I wonder if this is taking away female empowerment in a way.

I know that sounds like a stretch, but hear me out. If sites like PornHub have a constant flow of traffic for the content it has and Playboy saw an increase in traffic for the content it got rid of, it almost feels our society is saying, either lay it out with hardcore fucking and all or don’t bother showing anything period.

It never made sense to me when a well-known celeb would pose for Playboy and you’d hear “I’ve lost respect for her” from both men and women, but someone like Kim Kardashian can release a sex-tape, be a “reality-star” and break the Internet, while Playboy is still looked at as smut even though it has well-written pieces and advice articles. Whether or not this is a win for women only time will tell, but when it comes to Playboy, this isn’t an identity crisis as some have said so much as it is just a case of “adapt or die.”