Playboy magazine puts an end to nudity

Aaron Credeur, Staff Writer

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Playboy's decision to stop printing nude images will potentially encourage people to find pornography elsewhere, particularly in online alternatives. Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Playboy Enterprises recently announced that nude pictures will no longer be shown in the magazine. While many advocating for a ban on pornography have celebrated the decision as a victory, the reason behind it is anything but a cause to celebrate.

The reason? Online pornography.

Due to the rapid expansion of the online pornography empire, Playboy has seen its numbers dwindle. Once a media powerhouse with a circulation of 5.6 million, the magazine has only declined as customers have sought the convenience of the Internet.

Playboy has always been marketed toward the “cultured” man, as a source of intellectual articles and stories from renowned journalists and authors, conveniently placed alongside photos of nude women.

By calling pornography “art,” Playboy has been able to separate itself from the stigma of hardcore Internet pornography, enjoying the heightened prestige of a men’s lifestyle magazine. Many men too “civilized” to speak about watching porn online would rather discuss an article by an esteemed novelist they happened to stumble upon while looking through Playboy.

As the Playboy empire grew out of the immense success of this marketing ploy, more people became privy to the real reason for reading the periodical, making it harder to maintain this image, leading Playboy into a gradual decline over the past three decades.

But the decision to remove nudes from the magazine has only served to reveal the Playboy image as a bad joke, a miasma carefully constructed to redefine decency in modern society. And to this effect it has certainly succeeded.

Playboy has led the charge to commodify sex, devaluing the intimate and corrupting traditional gender roles. In the world of Playboy, to be masculine is to objectify the opposite sex and femininity is reduced to the shape of a body. Yet now, this company is being overthrown by the very ideas to which it gave rise.

As modern culture continues to devalue sex, fewer people are willing to pay for what can be obtained for free online, and the bad taste of Playboy is ever more evident: no one buys it for the articles. But now the magazine is just less skin for more money.

The industry of online pornography, however, is very different from its print counterpart. The decision of Playboy to alter its image only solidifies and encourages the presence of a much more insidious form of media. Now, rather than shielding young eyes from the magazine stands, parents must worry about guarding their children from threats within the home, threats that are mostly unregulated and widely available.

The decline of Playboy is a result of the decline of the ubiquity of the association of “cultured” masculinity with pornography. The initial success of Playboy was due to the magazine’s ability to pass off excessively risqué photos as art. Like Playboy, new media presents a false image of sex, but rather than falsely presenting it as art, the body is only further devalued into something much uglier.

When faced with the growing prevalence of online alternatives to Playboy, there seems little reason to rejoice in its decline, especially considering that Playboy is not planning to disappear any time soon. All this talk of Playboy’s decline is only relative to its own past success. And the decision to remove nude photos from its pages hardly implies that the magazine is looking to build a wholesome image. Women will be just as objectified and the only development will be that instead of having to be completely naked, they will only be mostly naked.

The problem of the commodification of sex in modern society is something that is hard to talk about, but it is becoming increasingly necessary to confront it as an issue with detrimental effects on other cultural problems, from divorce rates to teen pregnancy.

Sex has been drawn out if the bedroom and into the limelight, and it will take much more than a magazine’s changing image to revive our culture’s perception of genuine love.

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