Why Playboy’s Pornography Failed


by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

The Earth-shattering news that Playboy will stop putting nudie pics in its magazine prompted this rather arch observation from the writer Helen Andrews.

And certainly, Playboy‘s decision can’t be separated from the strange, stubborn cultural fact of the unprecedented availability of hardcore porn, which drove Playboy from shocking to shockingly tame. The ubiquity of pornography is also a cultural fact with as-yet unknowable and probably deeply profound consequences.

So given the hardcore, abundant, on-demand offerings of sites like YouPorn, it’s no surprise that relatively few contemporary young men are turning to Playboy for arousal. And that — not the articles — was whatPlayboy was about.

Consider what my colleague James Poulos has dubbed the “pink police state,” or the political-cultural regime that prevails when we as a society value interpersonal freedoms more than political freedoms. The pink police state, Poulos writes, polices the boundary between “clean/dirty” and “safe/dangerous,” a boundary that Playboy unwittingly straddled with its mix of smut and faux-intellectual articles. We live in a world of hardcore porn (dirty) and airbrushed Victoria’s Secret models who keep their underwear on (clean), and in between those two there’s no room for airbrushed naked models in tame poses.

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SOURCE: The Week