Along with every other media outlet on the planet, The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Playboy will no longer publish pictures of nude women, starting with its March 2016 issue:

Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

In my experience and study of battles, the victorious side does not kill the champion. In this instance, mariphagy – or mother-eating – has escaped the back alleys of cannibalistic spiders, scorpions, amphibians and crabs (the most unpleasant of necessary evils in the world!) and emerged in a pervers consequence of the publication of the first Playboy, featuring Marilyn Monroe, in 1952. The Playboy Bunny, it seems, has become the carrion for its offspring: Internet Pornography.

Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, is 89 years old. For a man who famously said in the first edition of his magazine that, “If you’re a man between the ages of 18 and 80, Playboy is meant for you,” it seems he has out lived his own usefulness to the industry he nearly highhandedly created. Perhaps that’s why he has no problem overseeing its demise and decomposition.

I contend that Mr. Hefner has lived long enough for God to use him to turn the tide against pornography, with the eventual reality being, in two generations if not sooner, the near complete elimination of consumption of pornography and the return of this illicit commodity to the back alleys and smut rooms of old.

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance.

Pornography itself is losing its shock value, which is why it has to get more and raunchier, beyond even Mr. Hefner’s tastes. Eventually, as it has eaten its mother, Internet Pornography will lose its shock value. In essence, it will become boring. For some of us, that happened sooner than for others, but eventually it will happen for all. Without a champion for “freedom of the press” like Mr. Hefner in the areas of pornography, the disjointed, splintered groups and individuals driving Internet traffic will begin to quickly show they don’t even have the appearance of class Mr. Hefner or Bob Guccione tend to evoke, but instead reveal themselves as the type of sleaze Larry Flynt is – and his empire is falling as Guccione’s did from the attempts to become even more explicit and X-Rated:

Playboy’s circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in 1975 to about 800,000 now, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Many of the magazines that followed it have disappeared. Though detailed figures are not kept for adult magazines, many of those that remain exist in severely diminished form, available mostly in specialist stores. Penthouse, perhaps the most famous Playboy competitor, responded to the threat from digital pornography by turning even more explicit. It never recovered.

 

Hustler as a magazine, even Playboy as a print magazine, will not be around in two or three years.”

Larry Flynt, July 28, 2011

Hefner’s empire was the first to claim sovereignty over pornography, and will be the last to fall in ruin. It leaves the nudity and smut to fiefdoms and eat-or-be-eaten garage and cellar-dwellers with a casting couch and a smartphone to fight for the waning dollars that belong to Millennials who have been over-shocked and underwhelmed by meaningless content.

The latest redesign, 62 years later, is more pragmatic. The magazine had already made some content safe for work, Mr. Flanders said, in order to be allowed on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, vital sources of web traffic.

In August of last year, its website dispensed with nudity. As a result, Playboy executives said, the average age of its reader dropped from 47 to just over 30, and its web traffic jumped to about 16 million from about four million unique users per month.

Even the ubiquitous, globally-recognized Playboy Bunny logo has been relegated to no longer representing pornography, as it is stamped on everything from clothing to cars.

Nudity in the magazine risks complaints from shoppers, and diminished distribution. The magazine is profitable if money from licensed editions around the world is taken into account, Mr. Flanders said, but the United States edition loses about $3 million a year. He sees it, he said, as a marketing expense. “It is our Fifth Avenue storefront,” he said.

Whether dispensing with the pornographic images is a moral or financial decision is immaterial at this point. How often has God used a method we mere mortals would never consider in order to assert his providence over our misguided path-following? Nearly all the time. So while Playboy’s flagship magazine center-folds to pressure from the finances controlled by the Millennials, the Millennials themselves are pushing out pornography for a variety of reasons.

Sure, maybe one of those reasons is that they can produce their own, which in turn makes it less inviting or stimulating because it is actually work. Or maybe such ready access makes it less forbidden and less alluring and tempting – supply has flooded the market and overwhelmed demand. Perhaps Millennials just don’t have time for the stuff or are actually so connected that their every move is chronicled on social media and they don’t risk an inadvertent layover on a page of smut gets plastered all over the Internet as an enhancement to their resume and career objectives.

Who knows the “Why?” I don’t really care. What I care about is that the pornography industry is destroying itself, as is a natural consequence of its own goals, purpose, and methods. Much like the abortion industry is killing its own potential supporters – the only ones left are going to be pro-life at some point – the pornography industry is eating itself alive.

And that’s okay by me.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Mr. Jones said of the decision to dispense with nudity, “12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it’s the right thing to do.”

A dear friend of mine killed himself as a result of pornography addiction, Mr. Jones. And while no parent should ever have to witness the death of their own child, don’t expect me to shed any tears over Hugh Hefner presiding over the funeral of his own progeny.

It’s the right thing to do.


 


 

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