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[Opinion] Playboy

Posted October. 04, 2002 23:10,   


In 1953, then little-known cartoonist Hugh Hefner saw something about Marilyn Monroe in movie “Niagara.” He saw her stature and pose appealing to men’s sexual desire. The following year Hefner founded Playboy and chose her as the first cover girl. He proved to be so right as the magazine published at $8,000 budget soon sold millions of copies across the country. The 27-year-old young man became a millionaire, and Monroe began to build her image as a sex symbol.

▷“Playboy” is a magazine that successfully commercialized human’s sexual desire. The openness of the magazine was a sensation at that time, although by today’s standard it was nothing. With the emergence of rivals such as “Penthouse” and “Hustler,” the so-called red-magazines grew bolder and bolder. They skillfully took shots of women’s bodies, and came to sell as many as 7 million copies a month in the 1970s. People began to seek sexual satisfaction and experience the world of sex via the magazines. Of the men in their 40’s and 50’s, many must have boyhood experience in which they blushed over sneak looks at pictures of naked women.

▷Lee Seung-hee, a Korean American nude model who ascended into fame after posing for Playboy, said during an interview with a Korean broadcaster. “Playboy is different from what you think.” She might have tried to say that it was an adult magazine with style. In fact, the magazine, despite its focus on women’s body and sex, is sauced with political and social issues and wit. It also introduces a short story by a popular writer in each edition.

▷“Playboy,” which will turn 50 years old two years later, is seeking to revamp itself. Chairman of the magazine Hefner proclaimed that it would reduce hardcore stuff, and to that end, hired a young editor in his 40s. Most of red magazines, are, in fact, struggling with lackluster sales, displaced by hardcore Internet Websites. Playboy has recently seen its sales down almost 50% from its hey days. Hefner made the decision to keep the company afloat in the keen competition. And we cannot but wonder what the moderated Playboy will be like. Will Hefner, who embodied the Playboy lifestyle living with a couple of women, be born again as a decent elderly man? Which one will be easier to tame, Playboy or Hefner?

Song Young-eon, Editorial Writer youngeon@donga.com