Playboy wasn’t the biggest part of my adolescence because I’m a girl. Everyone knows Harlequin is girl porn, not Playboy magazine. I may not have owned the prerequisite well-thumbed copy with some pages suspiciously glued together, but I did get to sneak peeks here and there. Centrefolds, tits, strategic posing, sanitized sexuality, but sexuality all the same.
I wasn’t too familiar with Hefner the activist, the savvy editor, the guy who pushed for access to birth control and saved the Hollywood sign from being torn down. The Hef I’m familiar with is the kindly old man in The Girls Next Door, the one who had three pretty blonde girlfriends and was content to let them hog the spotlight while he worked on his scrapbooks. I liked that Hef. He seemed like the kind of guy who’d accomplished what he’d set out to do and was enjoying the fruits of his labour. Sure, having three girlfriends who weren’t just old enough to be his daughters but were also varying degrees of sameness (blonde, busty and tan) was … weird? Eccentric? Greedy? They were all consenting adults. His girlfriends seemed happy enough with their lot in life and certainly profited from it.
So Hugh Hefner has gone to the great big bunny ranch in the sky. Some think heaven to Hef is likely meaningless after all his time on earth. Some say he’s already gone through his allotment of seventy-two virgins and he didn’t even have to commit jihad to do it. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be a great outpouring of sadness. Certainly not from me – not that I’m glad he’s dead or anything. I just feel like a guy who spent a third of his life in a bathrobe hosting crazy bacchanals in a giant mansion, sorting through a bevy of blonde girlfriends, can’t have missed very much in life.
Hef died at 91, of old age. There’s no wringing of the hands over his wasted potential. The eulogies are laudatory. Wait. I was wrong. I checked Twitter and some people are unhappy he’s being remembered with anything other than fondness, calling him a misogynist, a creep, a pimp, controlling, abusive, etc. Eh. I’m tired of all the haterade. Einstein was unfaithful. Mother Teresa was said to force conversions and glorify suffering. Churchill said he hated Indians. No one’s perfect.
(Also, what is with Twitter? These days people react more than they respond and sometimes it seems like a veritable septic tank of vileness. The snark makes me giggle and the gifs are hilarious, but the constant barrage of entitlement, intolerance, self-righteousness and hate all masquerading as wit is irritating. Whatever happened to actually being grateful for something?)
Hef didn’t start the sexual revolution, but he contributed to it and helped bring sex out into the open, among other things. Sure, he made money out of it. Sex sells. It always has, and likely always will. It’s why we’re all here. At the end of the day, the most basic of animal instincts is procreation. Hugh Hefner came along and, with Playboy, helped to give us a new perspective on bumping uglies, embracing the liberating concept that sex wasn’t just a means to an end, it was also meant to be enjoyed.