After a Year of Modesty, Playboy Is Naked Again

Well that didn't last long

February 15, 2017 9:00 am

Back in November, we congratulated Playboy on their subversive and stimulating year without nudes.

One year was apparently enough. Because Playboy is naked again.

Just 11 months after the quintessential nudie mag pulled nude photography from its pages, the latest issue reintroduced it. The driving force swinging this identity crisis back into starkers territory? Cooper Hefner, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s 25-year-old son and the magazine’s four-month-old chief creative officer.

Over the last year, Cooper has been fighting for the return of bare bosoms and full frontal, in direct opposition to senior management. Which makes the latest cover headline, “Naked is normal,” look like a classic young gun power move à la “I’m CEO, bitch.”

A press release from the company states, “Cooper Hefner, in partnership with the content team, have unveiled the latest creative evolution of the brand online as well as in the March/April issue of the iconic magazine.” Along with some bad grammar, this wording signifies Cooper is running the show, not CEO Scott Flanders.

On his own terms, Cooper sent out this tweet on Monday:

Sounds like the staff at Playboy have some soul searching to do. Of course the naked human body is not a problem, but the issue not being discussed is the giant gap between younger and/or more progressive consumers who think “nudity isn’t a problem” and long-time subscribers who just want glossy naked chicks — e.g., the Playboy Facebook commenter who responded, “Guess that non-nude thing didn’t work out for you did it? You lost me as a subscriber after 20+ years when you pulled that stunt, and now it’s unlikely you’ll get me back …”

That guy’s not reading it for the articles.

So where does that leave us? While some suggest that the return of bared bosoms will make the magazine “awesome” again, it’s not that clear cut. The magazine’s long-term relevance will hinge on their ability to marry two seemingly incompatible initiatives: promoting body acceptance while appeasing a readership that largely exists because of the magazine’s history of body objectification.

To wit: the new issue of Playboy brings back nude photography, but also has a cover story called “Free the Nipple” by vocal feminist actor Scarlett Byrne and eliminates the subtitle “Entertainment for Men.”

By trying to stay afloat in this moral grey area, the magazine may end up resembling that guy who shares a video of naked female protestors on Facebook with the caption “Right on! [tongue out emoji]” and his hand down his pants.

Of course, taking a 63-year-old media icon in a brave new direction is tough (just ask the people at Esquire and Maxim). But we wish they would have stuck to their guns. Playboy had a good thing going last year when they gave models creative freedom, published unphotoshopped pictorials and gave a pulpit to new and exciting female voices.

So yes, even after all that, we’re rooting for you, Playboy.

Photo Credit: Playboy

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.