This one is pretty good. Enjoy
While he wasn’t perfect, Hugh Hefner was a personal hero of mine and influenced me in ways large and small. My personal politics are pretty much the editorial page of Playboy in about 1976. Anyway, with his death, Playboy is at a crossroads. I have a little time on my hands and so I’m going idly muse on my personal vision for the great publication that he founded. I have written about most, if not all, of this before but I feel like talking about it again now that Hefner is dead.
If I had any control over Playboy, I would try to bring back its coolness factor from the ’50 and ’60s. I would bring back the old Playboy TV show, maybe in partnership with YouTube or NetFlix and restore the brand to its glory days. I think there is a huge market for that old school cool and if they did a regular show that featured cool people talking about cool stuff and great bands, then people would respond.
Additionally, I would re-imagine the Playboy ideal. As it stands, for decades, the Playboy man has supposed to covet the attention of the “girl next door” who was hot and surprisingly easy given her ostensible persona. I would do something cool like obsess over Ilana Glazer and make her the “mascot” of the publication. She’s not your traditional beauty, but she’s very sex-positive and she would fit perfectly with the modern concept of the type of woman the Playboy man is supposed to lust after.
All of this would be in the context of trying to turn Playboy.com into the second coming of Gawker.com. If Playboy wants to be relevant again, it needs to flip the script, shake things up a little bit — or maybe a lot — and get people talking about it again. And the best way to do that would be to hire a lot of former Gawker writers and get them to rile up the elites with thought provoking commentary. That’s the thing about Playboy right now — it just doesn’t really generate all that much buzz like it used to. It’s a “legacy brand” as they say, and as such it’s more something a middle-aged man like me likes as opposed to the 20 somethings whose attention advertisers long for.
I would also suggest that — in conjunction with Ilana Glazer — the publication go into video in a big way by maybe having Glazer be a roving reporter for them in little shorts. She’s probably really busy right now and it might cost a bit more than expected to get her to do it, but the cost would be worth it. She would bring instant buzz and street cred back to Playboy in a big way. I know I talk a lot about Glazer sometimes, but she’s a personal favorite and I enjoy thinking up new and different ways to exploit her great personality.
Anyway, thanks for the memories, Hef.
Now, let me be very clear — I am not purporting to be an expert in the inner workings of Playboy Enterprises. I have a real affinity for the brand and so every once in a while I find myself thinking about it. And I only even think about it right this second because I have the notion of someone buying The New York Times on my brain and I feel like doing a little public mulling on the fate of another well known publishing brand, Playboy.
It seems clear that Playboy has no idea what it’s doing. It recently got rid of nudity, only to reverse course and bring it back. Playboy has a major problem in that the very thing that has been associated with it the most over the decades — great pictures of nekkid chicks — leaves most young people feeling kind of meh.
As Playboy itself admits, the Internet makes it so sex is pretty much everywhere and it’s difficult for even Playboy to distinguish itself in a crowded media field. I have thought off an on about how Playboy could fix its lot and so I’m kind of rehashing some it here.
One thing I think we undervalue Playboy for is its commitment to being a voice for the progressive movement. Throughout the 50s and 60s, before it kind of lost its way, Playboy was not only really cool, it was the voice of the Civil Rights and women’s movement. I always liked that about Playboy.
So, maybe if Playboy wanted to save itself, it might do something really, really radical. Right now, Playboy is a fixture of L.A. I think maybe it needs to radically transform itself. Like in a really unexpected manner. One way I could see it doing this would be to cut its ties with L.A. altogether and move the entire operation to New York City, specifically to Brooklyn.
Of course, all of this would depend on the vision of the Hefner family. Hugh Hefner is old and his son Cooper Hefner seems to be growing in power. Thus it seems as though the fate of the company may rest on the vision of Cooper Hefner in the coming years.
If the magazine wants to be a unisex lifestyle magazine, it should do so with vigor. It should keep the nude centerfold in some way, but otherwise, it should focus its attention on making Playboy.com the go-to online hub of The Resistance against Trumplandia.
As I keep saying, right now, I can’t think of any site online that is synonymous with The Resistance. If Playboy was to corner that market, I think it would yet again be relevant and buzz worthy — two qualities it, alas, is not right now.
Additionally, I idly think maybe it would be cool for Playboy to re-imagine the ideal woman for its readership. Instead of bimbo arm candy, why not a really funny smart woman like Ilana Glazer? That would be a real jarring change of place for the magazine. I could imagine a scenario whereby she might a roving reporter of sorts for the magazine’s brand, a mascot, even.
But, alas, no one listens to me for various reasons and I think barring something dramatic, like Playboy Enterprises being bought, it’s likely that Playboy will gradually drift into the sunset.