As we are wont to do, millennials (or at least, the millennial aesthetic) took over Playboy in February, banishing nudity from its pages in favor of a Snapchat-inspired redesign that made the iconic soft-core porno mag feel a bit more like a bus ad for dungarees or pouty lips. Nostalgia drunk bros (myself included) and people without modems were saddened by the news, but the numbers people with their pocket protectors and the business executives with their pocket squares swooned because now they were free to pursue less shameful placement on magazine racks (still a thing in the far flung reaches of the badlands, or so I hear tale of) and branding deals.
But now, the son of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (who at 90 has stepped down from his role as Chief Creative Officer due to health concerns) has taken a leadership role with the company, and it seems like he’s hellbent on avenging the de-boobing of Playboy and the desecration of his father’s legacy of sin. Cooper Hefner, the 25-year-old incoming Chief Creative Officer and an actual millennial, has been an avowed critic of the cover-up-and-cash-in strategy, but he may not be able to change much.
The real boss, Interim Chief Executive Ben Kohn, who is also the managing director of Playboy’s corporate overlord Rizvi Traverse, isn’t down with a switch-back to a place behind the blacked-out placard at gas stations. A spokesperson told the New York Post, “There are currently no plans to change the nudity levels in the magazine.”
This brings to mind a few questions about the internal power struggle at Playboy. Somewhere on the grounds of the Playboy Mansion, past the grotto, is there an actual dial that is used to adjust the allowable nudity levels for all Playboy properties? Is it shaped like the famous bunny head logo? Do two people need to turn a key to adjust it like in Crimson Tide with Gene Hackman and Denzel? These are thoughts I think.
The real question is: does any of this really matter to anyone who isn’t a Rizvi Traverse shareholder or a born-Hefner? The Post also reports that Playboy may drop down from a 10-times a year magazine to a 6-times a year magazine, proving that — despite the branding and merchandising wins — Playboy, as a periodical, is living on borrowed time. So, while a return to the flesh-baring ways of old might get some press attention, the people who had already moved away from their ritualistic purchase of Playboy before the switch (and after it) aren’t going to come back around. Not unless the internet breaks, anyway.
(Via The New York Post)