Sunday, October 15, 2017

GOODNIGHT HEF


One of the titans of the 20th century passed away a couple of weeks ago, but if you were to go by the swiftly congealing "consensus take" as it developed on the editorial pages of such prestigious purveyors of popular opinion as the New York Times or The Guardian, you'd think the bastard offspring of Torquemada and the Marquis de Sade had just shuffled off this mortal coil.

I was actually kind of amazed by the level of vitriol and spleen being vented Hef's way, both by the new puritans of the Middle Left ("Yes, Virginia, there really are insufferable SJWs!"), as well as by the usual cohort of reactionary culture warriors, such as Ross Douthat, the Times' resident Pentecostal-to-Catholic convert (a ridiculously revealing ideological evolution if ever there was one), who wrote, the day after Hef's passing:
"Hugh Hefner, gone to his reward at the age of 91, was a pornographer and chauvinist who got rich on masturbation, consumerism and the exploitation of women, aged into a leering grotesque in a captain's hat, and died a pack rat in a decaying manse where porn blared during his pathetic orgies."
Man, I can hardly wait to read what this goon has to say when Hef's fellow Great American Larry Flynt rolls his chair through those (gaping and dripping) Pearly Gates!

Of course it stands to reason that young Mr Douthat would be a better better judge of such things than, say, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, considering how long and hard he's prayed on all the Hef-related topics, from reproductive rights to first amendment freedoms. Furthermore, any speculation about a more realistic culprit for Douthat's angry lashing out being a nested complex of deeply repressed, impossibly twisted psychosexual perversions (perhaps discernible via the trajectory of his life journey)... well, that probably isn't even worth mentioning.

Of course Douthat is a conservative movementarian. At least he's got an excuse for being such a waste of flesh and breath. What I can't understand is the transformation I'm seeing in the people I thought I knew. Every day, in new and awful ways, I'm baffled by the spectacle of people I would normally consider simpatico disappearing up their own ass and (paradoxically?) losing their shit over some relatively minor transgression committed by ostensible ideological allies. Even worse, every new nugget of misguided self-righteous idiocy they spew up on social media serves as red meat to the Worst People in the World (i.e. Youtube's alt-right Patreon Panhandlers, about which more tomorrow). 

To paraphrase the great (and, of course, "problematic") Frank Zappa: "You know, I'm not Right, but there's a whole lotta times I wish I could say I'm not Left!"

But back to the topic at hand.

"Chicago: it's just like on TV!"
You know, few people are aware that Hefner's original, early ambition was to become part of that great mid-century pantheon of American cartoonists, providing gags to all the best mags, like Esquire (where he would eventually hone his editorial skills). Fewer still know that he created Playboy Magazine partially in response to his wife cheating on him while he was serving overseas during the second World War.

From those humble origins (and thanks to his genius acquisition of early nudes of Marilyn Monroe for a mere $500), Hef almost single-handedly created one of the most important and courageous platforms for free speech, free expression, and sexual liberation, at a time when it was sorely needed. 

Playboy was instrumental in a number of great cultural fights; everything from a woman's right to have access to birth control and, if necessary, abortion, to advocating for an increased political involvement and awareness of racial injustice and high level corruption. 

Playboy championed hot jazz, great movies, good food and fun times. They pioneered the long-form interview, and featured so much great writing by some of the century's literary legends, the list of contributors puts most literary journals to shame. 

Playboy was an original, and it was great. And for all intents and purposes, Playboy was Hugh Hefner, and he, Playboy.   

You know what? I'll just come right out and say it. FUCK the haters! Hef was the fuckin' man. He lived his best life, and he made a lot of people very, VERY hor-I mean happy. And he did it Hef's way.

Rest In Power, you magnificent old pervert, you.

3 comments:

  1. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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