Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hefner: Goodbye and good riddance





Image result for pathetic hugh hefnerSo Hugh Hefner is dead and the thinking of many my age, sixty something lets say, is that we ought to praise the Pajama pornographer for defending civil rights, exposing readers of his magazine to many a Nobel-worthy authors and fighting against all manner of authoritarian censorship. As far  as that goes, sure, but  for decades Hefner seemed to be the slimy pipsqueak no one would sit with during lunch period who, in the cruelest irony to the self image of jocks and culture-vultures everywhere, became the standard by which be defined smart and sophisticated masculinity. Praise for his influence as a cultural revolutionary is undone once we realize that he's turned a generation or two of young men into a compulsive, masturbatory yahoos who, over time, hadn't a chance to escape the prison of their arrested development.  Results varied , of course, from the indoctrination into this greasy promoter's school of consumerist Hip, but the effect on our national manner and collective assumptions is that of find yourself at ground zero for the kind of self contentedness you go into doubt, psychic and financial, to get access to. Praising for bringing enlightenment to America only repeats the lie and hides the fact that Hefner's surrounding himself in beautiful and submissive women, great writers, important intellectuals and advancing variously defensible causes was actually subterfuge obscuring the man's  Inner Carnival barker and distracting us from the unvarnished turth that he made us coarser people in the long run. 

Hitler, Mussolini and the early iterations of the Soviet regimes gave untold numbers of artists jobs , but that does not mitigate the calamities those monsters foisted on the world. Hefner, I realize, is different,but the comparison holds to degree. His inclusion of writers, intellectuals and serious musicians into his world was middle brow culture at its worse, a means to lure large swaths of the public,mostly white males with privilege and power and influence, into a seductive consumerist thinking. Hefner may well have advocated for civil rights for blacks, but certainly not equal rights for women. What he actually did to the culture and its habit of mind undoes the good things he might have accomplished only incidental.This attitude is classic objectification, and it's the same deep and fatally seated cosmology that made slavery a morally defensible institution.  He was singularly responsible for instilling in American mainstream the greedy , sociopathic libertarianism of Ayn Rand-- generally anti-government, pro-wealth accumulation, pro subjugation of women as sexual objects. Hitler, Mussolini and the early iterations of the Soviet regimes gave untold numbers of artists jobs , but that does not mitigate the calamities those monsters foisted on the world. Hefner, I realize, is different,but the comparison holds to degree. 


The inclusion of writers, intellectuals and serious musicians into his world was middle brow culture at its worse, a means to lure large swaths of the public,mostly white males with privilege and power and influence, into a seductive consumerist thinking. Hefner may well have advocated for civil rights for black Hefner's influence made him a cultural force whatever his original intentions happen to be. Hedonism maybe as American as apple pie, but decency ,fairness, equal and uncompromised rights are as well,; much that most of the liberal and progressive movement, which evolved from the Civil Rights movement, turned against Hefner and his sensualist libertarian-ism because his over all presentation, his long standing and consistently articulated production of his ideal society, worked mightily against the aims of women achieving rights that are naturally and legally theirs in the first place, not favors awarded them by male masters. It's my thinking that the Playboy philosophy did more than build a media empire. It became an ideology of a kind, a rationale that rather conspicuously worked against the advancement of human and which resulted in a seemingly permanent strain of angry emotional dwarfism that has yet , if ever, to be removed .s, but certainly not equal rights for women. What he actually did to the culture and its habit of mind undoes the good things he might have accomplished only incidently. He was singularly responsible for instilling in American mainstream the greedy , sociopathic libertarianism of Ayn Rand-- generally anti-government, pro-wealth accumulation, pro subjugation of women as sexual objects and breeders of off spring. His Playboy philosophy, if fully implemented, would have been a cruel and narrow path to hoe.cts and breeders of off spring. His Playboy philosophy, if fully implemented, would have been a cruel and narrow path to hoe. Hefner's influence made him a cultural force whatever his original intentions happen to be. Hedonism maybe as American as apple pie, but decency ,fairness, equal and uncompromising rights are as well,; much that most of the liberal and progressive movement, which evolved from the Civil Rights movement, turned against Hefner and his sensualist libertarian-ism because his over all presentation, his long standing and consistently articulated production of his ideal society, worked mightily against the aims of women achieving rights that are naturally and legally theirs in the first place, not favors awarded them by male masters. 


It's my thinking that the Playboy philosophy did more than build a media empire. It became an ideology of a kind, a rationale that rather conspicuously worked against the advancement of human and which resulted in a seemingly permanent strain of angry emotional dwarfism that has yet , if ever, to be removed .Truth is is that Hefner was a relentless self promoter a mere step or two removed from being a pornographer. He essentially dressed up his magazine with classy writers and journalists and he promoted a good number of causes advancing the cause of civil rights and civil liberties, but that was a cynical move to purchase himself a veneer of legitimacy. He was sexist and, I suspect, a misogynist, dehumanizing not just his models but women in general. Men, as well, suffered wounds at the market and image manipulation of this salacious Svengali, instructing generations that one can be sophisticated and cerebral at the same time as they are emotionally stunted, locked into a narcissistic world view that regarded half of the world's population as property. Hefner dehumanized all of us . He was not a great man. He was very successful creep.

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