O.P. Recommends: Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner, by Ross Douthat

‘No doubt what Hefner offered America somebody else would have offered in his place, and the changes he helped hasten would have come rushing in without him.

But in every way that mattered he made those changes worse, our culture coarser and crueler and more sterile than liberalism or feminism or freedom of speech required….

Now that death has taken him, we should examine our own sins. Liberals should ask why their crusade for freedom and equality found itself with such a captain, and what his legacy says about their cause. Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.’

Read this article in full in the New York Times‘ Opinion Page for Sep 30th, 2017

~ One thing I’d like to make clear: I don’t at all endorse the ageism I discern in many of the articles I’ve read that are critical of Hefner, including this one. So many of these writers imply that Hefner’s sexuality was distasteful, at least in part, because of the physical attributes associated with aging. For example, Douthat mocks Hefner’s ‘papery skin’ and ‘decrepitude’ as if they were among those things the reader should be disgusted by. I don’t believe it’s any more justified to stereotype older people as it is to stereotype women based on narrow conceptions of what desirable or likable people should look like.

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One thought on “O.P. Recommends: Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner, by Ross Douthat

  1. The author has conveniently forgotten that the american culture of the 1950’s was one of sexual repression. During the 60’s sensibilities changed; yet unlike say, France or Greece, the change in sexual attitudes in America was transmitted thru the avatar of the commodity. There was no real evolution of affect.

    Now this is hardly surprising because, after all, what makes America ‘amerikan’ is the commodification of the deeply personal. Enter Playboy, pure and simple.
    So rather than either obsequiousness or childish name-calling, what is needed is a clear-minded sociology: HH simply injected sexuality into the marketplace.

    Therefore, no sentiment either way is worth more than one’s own feelings about the commodification of sex in the first place–all HH did was to bring into the light of day what was once a dirty secret, hidden from view.

    In other words, sex-as-bizness is simply a way of life here in amerika. And as a biznessman, HH simply exploited the opportunity.

    This is neither black nor white, and the author seriously errs in his obtuse sanctimony. Rather, HH was no better or worse than the drug-peddler who claims that depressions are ‘neuro-chemical’, and far less harmful than the gas/oil peddler who claims that global warming is fake. ‘Just another biznessman, pure and simple, who at least led a personal life consistent with his product.


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