Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Don’t Even Read it for the Articles

I don’t care for Playboy. There, I said it. I’m a heterosexual man who doesn’t like Playboy Magazine. In fact, Playboy gets on my nerves.

Let me explain why I’m even bringing this up at the moment. Last night Tanya, our friend Kathy and me were discussing Playboy because Kathy’s been watching “The Girls Next Door” on the E! network. Kathy said that the show made her want to buy issues of Playboy so that she could see the fruits of the girls’ labor. I could have chastised her for being a pawn to Playboy’s publicity machine, but I didn’t, I’m more mature than that. Instead, I just spent the next half hour throwing a hissy about the stupid magazine.

I’ve never liked Playboy. I take that back. I think that there was a brief moment when I was around 10 or 11 or so that I was a fan, but that’s only because the pictures of naked chicks in Playboy were the only ones I could get my hands on. As soon as I was introduced to the more expansive world of porn, Playboy got left behind. It was a fairly sad time. I remember my youthful disillusionment with Playboy even now.

See, to a pre-teen boy, Playboy is like the Holy Grail. I mean it’s right up there with drinking beer. If a kid had a Playboy he was king for a month. At least that’s the way it was supposed to be. That’s what I saw in movies. Kids in movies were always looking at Playboys with awe and wonderment. The cool kids always found a way to sneak a Playboy out of their “Old Man’s” collection. But the reality was this; the naked pictures in Playboy weren’t any sexier than anything I could find in my mother’s art books (and I knew where every naked woman was in my mother’s art books. I memorized the pages they were on. I had to, my mom would have noticed if I had dog-eared the paper).

Incidentally, my disillusion with beer was almost as bad. It didn’t live up to the hype either. And I like beer.

So, I stopped being interested in Playboy. I put away childish things. Sure, when a kid would show up with one, I would feign interest just so that no one would beat me up for being gay. It’s hard to explain to a 13-year-old who’s cool enough to steal a Playboy, that the pictures just don’t “do it for you” on a strictly cerebral level. That your sexual fantasies involve the woman to do more than just show up and be naked. I was pretty sure that I couldn’t argue my point eloquently enough to avoid being labeled “fag” for the rest of my Junior High career.

But there’s something interesting about the allure of Playboy. There is an allure, after all. But it’s purely mythological. That’s why men are drawn to it.

And then there are the articles.

Look, I have to be honest. I haven’t read that many Playboy articles in my lifetime. I know that many of our countries great writers have contributed to the magazine over the years. But…I just don’t like to read all that much. Plus, the articles that I’ve read in Playboy tend to be a little on the…heady…side. Overcompensating, I’m sure, for being in Playboy to begin with. I mean do I really need to read another interview with former FEMA Director Michael Brown? And can I take the article seriously if it shares a leaf with some bimbo’s “knockers?” it’s hard enough to take Michael Brown seriously as it is without being distracted by boobs bigger than he is.

In college, I had some friends who would put Playboy out on their coffee table. These guys claimed that they read Playboy for the articles. And I can honestly say that they did read the articles, but I think it was more in case anyone actually confronted them about it than anything else. I don’t think that they got off on the pictures either. I mean, sure, they were perverts, but I believe that their number one motivating factor for putting Playboys on the coffee table was to look cool.

They were sensitive to this criticism. Instead of using the tired old “I read it for the articles” argument, they did one better. They acted as if their decision to place Playboys on the coffee table were in fact a genius social experiment. They would have you believe that they were keeping score of how many men picked up the magazines compared to how many women and in which social circumstances they did so. As if there was a one-way mirror with a man behind it wearing a white lab coat and scribbling on a clipboard (ostensibly not masturbating).

But they really did it to look cool. Let’s just face facts.

However, every single time I would go over to their place and I would see those Playboys on the coffee table, I would pick one up and thumb through it. There were two reasons for this. One is that I wanted to look cool, as if I had evolved beyond mortal taboos. And the other is that Playboy does something to me. It’s in the ink they use, I think. It gives me amnesia. I see a Playboy and I think “hey look! A Playboy! Wow! Naked ladies!” Then I pick it up, thumb through it for a second and put it back down. Disappointed all over again.

The people with the Playboys would always give me grief. They would see me put the magazine down and mistake my look of utter bemusement with one of embarrassment. They would offer a way out. “You know, there’s a fascinating interview with so-and-so in there.”

“Uh…that’s okay” I’d say.

See. I was looking at the magazine because I wanted to see some porn. I never pick up a magazine with a picture of a mostly naked cheerleader on the cover because I am interested in how Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange are holding up these days. That’s never my motivation. I like my porn to be porn.

Problem is that the pictures in Playboy aren’t porn. They’re “classy.” By classy, they mean that you don’t see genitalia. I have a much broader definition of the word, but that’s what it means to Playboy. It’s not as if the scenes set up in the magazine are all that tasteful. I don’t look at them as the epitome of class and taste. It’s just another picture of a woman who’s not allowed to show me her ho-ha. I can see that every day! Every time I walk down the street I’m barraged by women who aren’t allowed to show me their ho-has. Not in public anyway.

So if Playboy isn’t sexually stimulating, let’s address their other “selling point.”


Playboy likes to parade itself around as if it’s walking the high ground. As if the pictures, since they don’t show actual labias, are somehow “artistic.” If that’s the criteria for artistic then we live in an art-filled world, my friend. Myself, not being cursed with a labia, am a freaking walking work of art 24 hours a day!

But seriously, there’s nothing artistic about Playboy pictures most of the time. They’re stock. Cookie-cutter. Like Glamour Shots for areolas.

So if Playboy is neither stimulating sexually or artistically, what is it? It’s immature. And if you need “painstakingly trimmed bush” as your incentive to read about the failed policies of President Bush then perhaps you need to rethink your intellectual life.

And that’s why I hate Playboy. Listen Playboy, stop objectifying women in your “porn!” Have them do something!

Fun Fact: I don’t read porn magazines. I mean why buy porn magazines anyway?

I pay good money for DSL.

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