Thursday, February 18, 2016

Assessing PLAYBOY's First "Vanilla" Issue: Not Bad

Sarah McDaniel for Playboy. (Image Courtesy of Playboy/Theo Wenner)
Sarah McDaniel on front cover with her left blue eye and right brown eye.

As promised, PLAYBOY magazine delivered its first "vanilla" (e.g. no nudes) incarnation with the March, 2016 issue. It arrived in the mail barely four days ago and wifey and I have been more or less sharing it - both of us reading the scintillating interview with Rachel Maddow. Personally, and I believe speaking for Janice,  the Maddow interview alone made the magazine worthwhile, even with barely a nude to be seen. ( I will get to that in a bit! The issue wasn't totally sans nudes.)

Among the things we learned about Maddow:

- She regards herself not as good looking but as a "goober"

- She is every bit the brain we believed her to be, a former Rhodes scholar (in political science) with a Ph.D. from Oxford.

- She'd like readers to recall (in this tempestuous election year), that ours has always been a "raucous, fight it out kind of country" where Senators used to "beat each other to death with canes on the Senate floor."

- She acknowledges that Obama is a centrist "not a progressive" - which most of us lefties figured out very early - which is why we want a real progressive candidate now, not another mock one.

- Ten to fifteen percent of her mail is hate fest crap in which the morons "think I'm a man or want me dead"

- She is good friends with several people from FOX News, including Greta Van Susteren ("a good social drinker" and :"warhorse") and Shephard Smith ("a fun loving guy").

- She once shook hands with Bill O'Reilly and was nonplussed by his weak handshake.

- She will never ever run for public office and firmly believes no pundit or member of the scribe class should, ever.

One of the three main pictorials featured Snapchat sensation Sarah McDaniel (also on the cover) who sports one stunningly blue eye and one right brown eye (a condition called "heterochromia iridum" a genetic condition) . The sequence of nine photos of her - 2 of which were twin page spread outs - were as if a "boyfriend" was gazing at her with no makeup on.  All the shots are totally tasteful, and artsy to the hilt. In the one semi- nude shot she is only seen that way behind a fogged up shower door,

The March centerfold, meanwhile, turned out to be Dree Hemingway, the great grand daughter of famous author Ernest Hemingway. She is featured in the first non nude centerfold - wearing a blouse and panties. Nothing is exposed that wouldn't be allowed, say in MAXIM or Esquire. (Which is the main gripe of old line subscribers). There is, however, a separate b&w shot of her which is in the nude, but to say she has the  "skin and bones" look would not be an exaggeration. "Voluptuous" would not be a word I'd use to describe her.

This is in contrast to model Myla Dalbesio seen in a five -page pictorial near the end. Myla came to fame as "Calvin Klein's first plus size model" (she was a size 10, according to the write up, while most models are sizes 4 to 6). All the shots in Myla's pictorial were taken by her, in hotel rooms, as part of a project she calls "In My Room". They are all also glorious testaments to what the PLAYBOY females of yesteryear used to be. She was fully invested in the project because seeing beautiful photos of her body "bolstered her" and made her feel better about herself.  Believe me, there is no quarrel with that! All the images are authentic and show her in real poses, i.e. images that appeal to the male eye.

Speaking of the latter, one of the better articles in the magazine is by Bret Easton Ellis ('Modern Sexuality A Case Study', p. 99) in which he explores the evolution of sexuality in our culture - from the days porn was still shown in seedy theaters (and guys wore hoodies on entering so as not to be recognized) to today's internet scene where it's all a click away. Ellis argues this hyper-convenience has caused sex to be available "without investment". In his words:

"When you went to a record store, or bookstore or movie theater or newsstand you took the time to place a certain amount of investment in buying the record, the book or watching the movie or hunting for sexual images. The investment was involved with a deeper effort to connect"

But that is no longer the case. In using this line of thought, he ties it neatly to PLAYBOY's "evolution" , implying the mag has forced those now conditioned to nudes at their fingertips to reinvest, but this time without the nudity being the focus. The unwritten message being the women portrayed can now be seen more or less for themselves. (Like Sarah McDaniel with her  blue eye and brown eye).

The article I found most informative was "God Bless Birth Control" by Erin Gloria Ryan about the IUD and how it has evolved far beyond the ancient Dalkon Shield - the subject of so many lawsuits back in the 80s. The new device is virtually trouble free, she writes, and has a far lower risk of pregnancy than either the pill or condoms Plus, women don't have to hide their pills from snoopers, or worry about "anti sex right wing chuckleheads taking their birth control away".  And the best news is the IUD is covered under the ACA though some moronic lawmakers have tried to declare it an abortifacient, despite the fact that would require: "a woman successfully ovulating every 24 hours and being fertilized by a human sex machine". 

It was also interesting to learn that a $25m grant for Colorado over 2009-14 "provided more than 36,000 Colorado teens with long acting birth control. The result was a 48 percent drop in unwanted pregnancies, saving $78 m in Medicaid.  Yet last year Republican lawmakers killed a bill to provide $5 m to continue the program".

Proving again that the Reepos really are dumb clucks when it comes to priorities and budgeting issues.

Other interesting articles could also be found(e.g. 'My Deportation' by Javier Valadez)  and my general assessment was the issue was better than I originally believed it would be when I wrote the original blog post warning PLAYBOY might now make a mistake as big as Coca Cola with "New Coke" e.g.

But would I re-subscribe to it? I don't think so. Let the "new generation" that PLAYBOY rep Scott Flanders wrote about in his cover letter (stuck into the magazine) enjoy it now. It remains to be seen if this experiment will work, but it might if enough of the old guard subscribe.


Richard Charnin said...

I stopped watching Maddow, wwho I believe is nothing more than a corporate shill, when she showed her true colors in this piece:

Copernicus said...

I tend to concur, especially after her controversial pieces on the JFK assassination (blaming Oswald as per the corpora-media take) and also her failure to come out against the proposed Social Security cuts (by Obama) back in 2011. Still, the interview itself was interesting and provided a glimpse into her brain and modes of decision making in terms of politics etc. In general, one sees she is not the "revolutionary" we need but then no one in the media sphere really is.