Decades ago, every young boy knew that dad stashed his Playboy magazines under the bed or in a dresser drawer. But back then, the cover model was always a blushing, alluring, curvy female model, posed under the imprinted word “PLAYBOY” which had a smaller subtitle underneath, “entertainment for men.” While most men claimed to read the magazine “for the articles,” everyone knew that men enjoyed looking at the professional photos of beautiful naked women.
That’s why Playboy’s newest digital issue (there is no longer a print version of Playboy) is such an unusual cover model: Their classic rabbit suit is worn by what appears to be a very homosexual man.
What part of the Playboy fanbase wants this?
— BretmanRock’s Year (@bretmanrock) October 1, 2021
It’s Bretman, bitch. 🌟 Introducing the October 2021 digital cover with icon @bretmanrock
See more: https://t.co/wj2pmXi7lT
Photography by Brian Ziff
Videography by Boa Simon pic.twitter.com/fvG0pIcyax
— Playboy (@Playboy) October 1, 2021
Playboy has defended its unusual choice comparing it to civil rights and modern culture. But in the aftermath of their announcement October 1, the magazine began claiming that the cover model, Bretman Rock, had received several “offensive” remarks online in response to his appearance. The once-relevant men’s brand suggested that the unfavorable remarks were all racist, sexist, and transphobic in nature.
“Since posting, we’ve received a lot of great comments, but far too many offensive ones as well,” Playboy said Monday in a series of tweets.
These are the same kind of comments Playboy received when we put Darine Stern, an African American woman, on the cover in 1971, when we featured transgender model Tula Cossey in 1991 and when we fought for abortion rights before Roe v. Wade and cannabis law reform in the 1970s.
— Playboy (@Playboy) October 4, 2021
Defenders of Playboy’s “woke” decision say the magazine is known for “fashion and modeling,” so this is just more of the same, but “inclusive,” but those defenders seem to have missed the part about the core of the publication being about heterosexual sex, or at least that’s how its founder Hugh Hefner intended when he released his inaugural edition in 1953 with a luscious Norma Jean (aka Marilyn Monroe) as its centerfold.
Playboy was America’s growing middle-class man’s “gentleman’s club,” a hard worker who wanted to develop refinement while still getting to look at the feminine images that previously decorated the back wall of the auto shop or the side of his bomber during WWII.
Now Playboy is putting gay makeup influencers on their cover. Is this guy going to go on the wall of your auto shop or locker room?
If gay men really want to gaze at other males, the internet is still free, right? That is, after all, Playboy’s major problem. How can a traditional girly-picture publication stay relevant in an age of constantly accessible pornography of all kinds? Their only option left is to produce bizarre, click-bait headlines in mainstream media in the hopes that the curious will visit the Playboy website and then locate one of those articles guys used to pretend to read and maybe they will stick around.
Yeah right! Previously, men didn’t read them all that much. The only way Playboy can generate attention these days is by putting homosexual and transgender “ladies” on their digital covers.
Hef’s rolling over in his grave. https://t.co/ZXTTFsvq3V
— Bleeding Fool (@BleedingFool) October 1, 2021
One former Playboy playmate, in a podcast interview with Joel Pollack of Breitbart News, says that that Playboy‘s use of a male bunny — gay “beauty influencer” on the cover of its October issue is indicative of the magazine’s decline in relevance.
“I think that Playboy‘s influence is probably less than we need to be giving it, with the kind of attention it’s getting right now,” Jessica Vaugn stated. “I think they’re following the trends. I think they’re looking around and seeing the signs and trying to regain their footing in a landscape and a world that’s changing so quickly. So I don’t think that they’re necessarily any kind of foundation that the culture is looking at and being influenced by.”
🔶Check out my conversation with @joelpollak yesterday on @BreitbartNews radio discussing Playboy’s controversial cover with a male wearing the iconic bunny suit. 🔶 Pictured is a photo of yours truly in the same costume! https://t.co/Mm2Mxatoan pic.twitter.com/IDNZ7582g0
— Jessica Vaugn (@JessicaVaugn) October 4, 2021
She added, “I think that [Playboy is] just following the lead … so they ride the cultural tide. … The important work that Playboy did with classic femininity has already come and gone, and we’ve already fought that battle just like all the other battles that have been fought and won, and so, this is a completely different one, and they’re not a leader in the trends [or] forward-types of thinking. They’re just kind of riding coattails on that. It is sad to see its decline.”
“We can’t even have normal conversations like, ‘Okay, Well if I’m not biologically a woman, I’m a woman if I think I am,’ and all these kinds of things that are just … really foggy territory because it’s just playing with language so much. How can we have any conversation about women’s rights when we can’t even all agree on what a woman is?”
In 2016, the magazine underwent a top-to-bottom redesign, which no longer included nude models. A little over a year later, Hugh Hefner died at age 91, and apparently so did Playboy. Within a year of his death, the Playboy founder’s family sold off the last piece of the company they owned for $35 million, making it the first time in history the Hefner family had no ownership of Playboy. In March 2020, Playboy Enterprises CEO Ben Kohn announced that their Spring issue would be the last to be printed, and the publication would be online-only going forward.
Meanwhile, the old adage “get woke, go broke” is still very much in play. The company’s stock price (PLBY) is down 3% in early trading amid a broad market sell-off. And, shares of the Plby Group Inc have lost more than 8% in the past five days.
I don’t see much hope for the once revered “gentleman’s magazine” if making a desperate appeal to a younger, “woke” audience, and pivoting to a different type of content, away from its “sexist” legacy is their best strategy. It’s really not much more than a desperate bid for relevance.