Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Playboy... pulling its own fangs?

This is apparently not a hoax, though I had great trouble believing it:
Playboy will stop featuring fully nude women. Article/video.

I'm sure I don't know.
On the one hand I feel protest, on the other hand, it may just make sense for them. Their nudity features were rarely very interesting to me. The "Girl Next Door" was so disingenuous; for how many lives next door to a perfect, big-bosomed beauty with perfect coifed hair, perfect make-up, perfectly retouched skin, and walking around naked in a super-luxury home?
And the articles or at least interviews (of such guys as David Bowie and John Mellencamp) were actually often the most interesting feature.

I just hope it isn't a big nail in the coffin of the "tasteful nude" (or "simple nudes" as I called them on Domai). I hope people looking for nice nude women will be able to find them, and not only all the most extreme sex acts in the world. (I stopped counting when semi-medical conditions were included in the list of fetishes.)


Ken said...

It reflects several things
- If I want to see attractive need women I can see them on the internet, totally private
- in this politically correct world it is not the best idea to leave around a magazine with naked women in them unless it is very artistic
- their circulation had dropped to the point where paying celebrities to pose nude must have been difficult

Bruce W. said...

I don't think it will be the end of the "tasteful" or "simple" nude at all. In fact, I would argue that Playboy left that behind sometime in the 1970's when the went to the "perfect, big-bosomed beauty with perfect coifed hair, perfect make-up, perfectly retouched skin, and walking around naked in a super-luxury home" who was photo shopped (or air-brushed/re-touched) to plastic perfection. So most of the models, including the "playmates" showed not a bit of personality or life in their photos.

I think there are internet sites that still have a lot of photos of the "girl next door" or "simple" or "tasteful" nudes. First, of course, is DOMAI, but I have also seen a lot of really good models and photography in the "simple" style on large sites like "MET" and "MPL." (no association with any of these).

For me, Playboy destroyed its founding "girl next door" philosophy, but for a long time, there were few alternatives. The internet changed that and their magazine circulation is dying. They may not care: financial articles state most of their profit comes from the licencing of their brand on merchandise. . .

Bru said...

1 word: China

"last year, roughly one-third of Playboy's $1.5 billion global retail sales came from China. Over the past decade, the company has made $5 billion in retail sales in the country."

"Playboy has never sold its magazine in China."

Ken said...

The more I think about it, the more sensible it sounds. They have a brand, one of the best known in the world, but their magazine sales are declining. Due to the nudity they can't even sell into a major market, China, and it probably discourages a lot of other sales. For a lot of women there is a huge difference between a woman in a bikini and a nude woman, however tastefully photographed so it isn't something a guy will leave around in case his mother, sister or girlfriend isn't impressed. In conservative America it wouldn't encourage advertisers either.

So get rid of the nudes and replace them with some bikini models. I expect for their re-launch they will be looking for someone high profile to make sure that everyone knows. Then fill it with some stories and informative articles for the upwardly mobile young or middle-aged man. A bit like sports illustrated but with more bikini models and a bigger range of subject matter.

Joe Dick said...

Instead of getting rid of nudity they should have gone back to the old ways, pre-airbrush (or, now, Photoshop). Check out the 50s and 60s Playmates. I don't know that the "girl next door" was all they ever did.

Getting rid of nudity for the newsstand editions might make sense because you could buy it without shame and it doesn't have to be hidden away. It will become more like Maxim, which is a shame, but from the business perspective makes sense. They got rid of nudity on their website and saw visitor numbers skyrocket. You can look at it at work.

I do kind of wonder if this really will be the final nail, though. Like a lot of classic magazines (e.g. MAD) it's just not what it once was.

wheeler said...

well, it was fun while it lasted! time to cancel my subscription. looks like they will now be a carbon copy of FHM and Maxim. I will say one thing for what play is (used to be?): it was unique!

Anonymous said...

They should probably just fold rather than become a Maxim clone. It reeks of desperation, a late-life crisis - a 62-year-old man trying so hard to be relevant. Sorry, Playboy, but it's time to take you out back and put a bullet in your head.

Kelly Trimble said...

Part one of two:

Playboy, because it blazed the trail for semi-socially acceptable porn by using the 'simple nudes' approach as you call it, sold primarily due to the pictures of naked women for several decades, but it tried to project at least a semblance of respectability by having a bunch of other quality content.

In the olden days, you pretty much had to hide your playboys in a cubby hole somewhere and try to read them in complete privacy somewhere in order to enjoy that content. If you read it while on the crapper, and hid them in your bathroom, anybody who discovered them, such as your wife, or anybody for that matter, would assume you were beating off all the time, so there were risks involved in actually reading a Playboy unless you were single and living pretty much alone. Going to a lunch counter somewhere and reading a Playboy was pretty much impossible unless you were going to a lunch counter that was full of other perverts, like a strip club that served sandwiches. You couldn't read your Playboy while sitting in the bleachers waiting for your kid to get done with soccer practice, you couldn't read your playboy while sitting in the church lobby waiting for your wife to get done with chior practice, though you could almost get away with reading a Playboy in traffic while sitting at a stop light or in the drive-thru at McDonalds or at the bank, but you ran the risk of the cops rousting you (in some small towns in the US the local paper would publish the police reports, usually somewhere between the obituaries and the area high school basketball scores. I was always careful not to try to read a Playboy in traffic because I didn't want anybody I knew to read something like 'Stopped at sobriety checkpoint Friday night at 12:36 AM, Kelly Trimble, defective license plate light, a search of the vehicle revealed that Mr. Trimble was in possession of an unopened six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, two handguns, 36 rounds of ammunition, two cherry bombs, and a December 1969 Playboy magazine in dog-eared condition.')

(End of Part One of Two, sorry for the rant)

Kelly Trimble said...

(part two of two)

Interestingly, there is now a subculture or 'underground' of people who have scanned the old magazines to PDF and email them back and forth. I can load several years of Playboys on my Android tablet (I use an original Samsung Note 10.1, and it works great), and I can sit right in the middle of McDonalds, or in the line for movie tickets, or anywhere, and I don't worry about social disapproval of what I am reading. I bet I've read forty Playboys in the past three or four months. There are some really good articles. And I can read them pretty much anywhere. I hate queing in lines and not having anything to do, especially if I don't want to talk to any of the boring people in the line next to me. A popular banker in our town died of a heart attack a couple of months ago. He knew everybody in the town, and the line to express condolances to the widow had to be eighty feet long and I was standing there for the better part of an hour, reading a Playboy magazine on my tablet. I couldn't have done that even five years ago. A week or two later, I was reading a Playboy magazine while standing in the 'meet & greet & payola' line at a Mike Huckabee republican party fundraiser. I've even been able to get away with reading Playboy magazines while setting up in bed late at night while my wife watches a TV show about the cops tracking down the insurance salesman's mistress that mutilated his wife on 'The Forensic Files' or whatever that show is called on the Murder Channel, or Dicovery channel or whatever that channel is called now, with my wife sitting right next to me completely oblivious to the idea that I'm reading a playboy. If anybody asks me what I am reading, I'm able to say 'I'm reading an interview of Jimmy Carter from almost forty years ago. He's talking about his Christian faith.' (that was the interview where he admitted that he lusts for women in his heart.) Tho if they saw me reading a paper copy of a Playboy magazine, they probably wouldn't bother asking me what I was reading about.

Anyway, I've discovered two things doing this. First, there is a world of near-excellent quality content in Playboy magazines going back probably sixty years. Playboy seemed to be trying to cater to a certain thinking and culturally engaged politically aware male audience, and the naked women pics weren't the crotch shots and gross stuff that was in Hustler and Easyriders-some were borderline art. Magazines are usually projecting a particular lifestyle or image that attracts a particular demographic that advertisers are trying to reach. I bet the naked women were only a part of the image they were constructing. With the availability of such content on the internet, I bet that component has changed.

(end of part two of more than two, probably three, sorry)

Kelly Trimble said...

(part three of three, I hope)

Second, I noticed that the medium that I was reading Playboys in has changed. I'm reading them on a tablet. I read a lot of individual magazine articles one at a time on the web on my desktop computer. In the case of playboys, it changes the environment in which I am able to read the magazine. Interestingly, I'm not zipping directly to the dirty pictures in the middle like I did when I was a teenager. So they may also be thinking that there are changes in the medium in which their product is being delivered and consumed, and may change the type of advertiser or the demographic they are able to reach.

I bet they put a shitload of thought and research into this decision. I bet they are thinking they can attract a valuable demographic with their excellent editorial content and may be moving away from visual content altogether for all we know.

Things don't stay the same forever. I remember thinking how everybody (Gates, Jobs, and all the other techie asswipes) were running around all the talking head shows back in the 90s claiming that the entire world was going to be transformed in five years by the internet. Two things: the transformation is probably going to be deeper and less predictable than anybody imagined when all this internet stuff started, and it is probably going to take a full generation and not just five years for our culture and society to fully absorb the impact of changing technologies.

One last point. There is so much free porn available on the internet that there is no way I'm going to pay several dollars for a paper magazine with only a handful of naked women pictures in the middle, but every couple of months I am still buying a Foreign Affairs magazine, all text, no pictures, off of the newsrack. Porn has gotten cheap and is continuing to cater down-market. Real hardcore intellectual content is still hard to find and people like me are still willing to pay real money for it. This Playboy move is probably a reaction to changing markets as much as changing technology.


Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thank you, Kelly, you bring up many excellent points.

Inflation of porn, yes. (As actually in digital content generally.) It may be a primary reason why's steak years were the middle noughties and after that it fell slowly but steadily, despite adding more and better content per week twice.

Ken said...

Attitudes are surprising. Someone I know was shocked to find that her husband, who has a lot of collectibles, had a first edition of the first issue of Australian Playboy from 1979. It is not hard to find the centrefold photos of Karen Pini on the web. Nude, of course, but with heavy pubic hair, presumably airbrushed so that nothing is visible beneath. A woman topless in a g-string will show more.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the others are fairing - Penthouse, Hustler, etc. I've never actually seen a Hustler, I just remember that scene from American Pie where Eugene Levy describes the approaches of the various magazines.