Hefner at 80

March 31, 2006 | 2 comments

I came across this hilarious roundup of bad reviews of Basic Instinct 2 this morning on Defamer (“taxidermy” — ouch). I’ve been following that story in a train-wreck sort of way. It was so awkward and sad to read about Sharon Stone’s insistence on being filmed completely nude despite the fact that nobody seemed to want to see it. She was really big on getting out there in everyone’s face (literally) that women approaching 50 can be not just attractive, not just sexy, but worthy of decadent, pornographic coverage.

You hear this a lot among aging Hollywood starlets, and their obsession with this issue is indicative with society’s views about women in general these days. Of course women of all ages can be attractive, but pop culture’s obsession with pounding this point into everyone’s heads comes from the fact that being SEXY is considered one of the most prized attributes a woman can have. I mean, come on, are you supposed to take pride in something meaningless like being a good mother or (if we can say it without laughing) being a good Christian?

I cringe a bit every time I see something in the media bending over backwards to make the world see this-or-that type of woman as sexy (the overweight, the handicapped, etc.), and blatantly overlooking the obvious question of “Who cares?” It’s a subtle, insidious way of making sure our daughters know where their value lies.

This fits in nicely with Matthew Scully’s Opinion Journal article I came across today. A great bet would be to make the loser actually watch the entirety of one of these Hugh Hefner interviews as he hits the media circuit for his 80th birthday. How could you not barf watching the media fawn all over Hefner while he basks in his glory as revolutionary/ philosopher/ liberator-of-women/ fighter-of-intolerance. Scully makes some great points about the ridiculousness of the situation. Some highlights:

Lest we forget that there was actually a “Playboy Philosophy” to go with the pictures, Mr. Hefner has also reissued, online, all 250, 000 words of his early-1960s disquisition on the good life and the evils of sexual inhibition. Still endlessly indulged by reporters, he has slipped into his best bathrobe for another round of clubby interviews in which to showcase his three salaried “girlfriends” and to reminisce about the original Playboy “dream.”

He is certainly right to believe that he has left his mark in the world. Richard Corliss in Time magazine is overstating it a bit when he writes that “porn doesn’t affront contemporary community standards. It is a contemporary community standard.” But he is close enough, and we have Hugh Marston Hefner, more than anyone else, to thank for the great plenitude of porn we take for granted today.

There was a dark and joyless time in America when one could actually go about daily life without ever encountering pornographic images. A child could grow up scarcely knowing that “adult entertainment” existed, much less acquainted with its many varieties. Hotel stays, in that prudish, stuffy era, had to be endured without pay-as-you-go porn, in-room and On Command. American males could not avail themselves of hundreds of millions of obscene films every year–as they do now, courtesy of even respectable corporations like Time Warner and Comcast–or take in the show at “gentlemen’s clubs” when porn is not enough.

And here’s what reminded me of the Sharon Stone situation, society’s obsession with making sure that we all know that older women are still sexy!!!!! (i.e. still valuable).

Pornography, Hef still assures us, is an antidote to social and personal troubles rather than an obvious source of them, and his own softer brand of the stuff is in any case so innocuous as to have no harmful social consequences whatever. It is not license, he tells us in a typical bit of pretentious blather, but repression that “twists the nature of sexuality. What causes all the sickness, the perversion, the rape, is a repressive society–a society that can’t be open in a loving and positive way.” Likewise, Playboy and all it brought were “not just for the guys. The major beneficiaries were women.”

Enough to say that police investigators, in the sex-crimes units that have expanded roughly in proportion to mass-market “adult material, ” rarely conclude that the rapist or child predator lacked for pornographic inspiration before committing the crime. As to those “major beneficiaries” of porn, you won’t find too many women these days who think that the world is better because of Playboy or the smug, selfish ethic it has always purveyed. For good reason has the Playboy Foundation long been a benefactor to NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood: The Playboy Philosophy has always been for the ladies, too, all right–just so long as they remember what they’re good for, don’t get too sentimental and feel grateful when the playboy in their own life offers to pay for the abortion.

Ah, yes, Hefner has contributed so much to the world. And what a rich life he’s built for himself: admittedly leaving his wife and children after the invention of Viagra, still trying to find the next hottest girlfriend at 80 YEARS OLD. Remember, everyone, he’s not pathetic, he’s living the “dream.”


  1. SmartBlkWoman

    I cringe a bit every time I see something in the media bending over backwards to make the world see this-or-that type of woman as sexy (the overweight, the handicapped, etc.), and blatantly overlooking the obvious question of “Who cares?” It’s a subtle, insidious way of making sure our daughters know where their value lies.

    This statement pretty much sums it up for me too. Why is there so much emphasis on proving a womans sexuality? I thought that feminism was supposed to get us away from the “woman as a body” ideology and now it appears that they have turned toward accepting as the prime definition of what a woman is and what she is supposed to be about?

    If Sharon Stone wanted to show the true allure of the sexuality of women in their 40’s and 50’s she would have been able to do it by keeping her clothes on.

  2. Jennifer

    There is a difference between “sexy” and “provocative” or “titillating”–I consider sexy something positive–the essence of sexuality in its full glory—but the media can’t really know sexy, though they try. The can only know provocative at the most base levels.

    I saw a woman (in Church no less) yesterday wearing thigh high boots and a micro mini and male heads turned–not to look at her–but to look at that little space of flesh that lived where the skirt stopped and before the boots began.

    Her value at that moment was in that little bit of exposed flesh. Period.

    “If Sharon Stone wanted to show her true allure…” I agree 100%

    Demure, soft older women are very sexy.

    There is something so sad–like Madonna’s get up in this last tour of hers–about older women denying the grace and beauty of their older years. They are sexy without trying.

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