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A Dirty Bomb of Another Kind

The latest Commentary contains a fine essay by Algis Valiunas calls Hugh Hefner the father of the modern West:

Hugh Hefner, the inventor of Playboy, has sold his idea of what sex should be with the winning fervor of a true believer, and while not exactly everyone has bought into it, he has enticed multitudes into his fold with the promise of as much pleasure as a body can manage in a lifetime, all of it perfectly innocent, of course. And what sensible person, playboy or playgirl, could possibly want anything better?

He has written, "In this century, America liberated sex. The world will never be the same." Hefner himself is the Great Emancipator and the most influential figure that American popular culture has produced; no actor or movie director or singer or athlete has moved the life of our time as potently as he. Indeed, one is hard pressed to name more than three or four figures from the more serious precincts of our modern public life who have had an effect of comparable magnitude.

Valiunas is always a pleasure to read.  Read the whole thing.

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Discussions - 5 Comments

Hefner is a pathetically sad figure today.

That said, had Hefner not been born, would someone else have taken up that mantle? I think so.

In a world of limitless internet porn Playboy magazine almost seems consverative. It is funny that a man who was once so edgy is probably discusted by his genre's current standards, based on the style of playboy vs. the internet. It almost sounds like a good thesis, although since I have seen one done about feces I'm sure someone has already charted the changes in American society via pornography. Although, we students of history, should question if this "liberation" is not just a cyclical phenomenon and draw on the perverse exploits of the Roman Emperors which by some of the accounts would even seem hardcore by today's internet porn standards. Then again, we don't really know what goes on up at the Grove in summer or in the dark places in D.C. at night either.

Sexuality is not what makes humans unique in the animal world, and therefore it isn't something to celebrate or worship. It always feels good to do "what comes naturally," but that's never a good reason to wallow in it. Hefner is pathetic, and always has been. Conservatives understand that sex as a primal force is necessary but also socially dangerous. It must be properly harnessed to make it good and useful.

Valiunas gives us interesting information on HH. I did read almost the whole thing. But his peddling the claim that HH is the just about the most important American figure of the postwar 20th century is ridiculous. Don's comment dispatches his basic claim in one sentence.

When you're about 18-22, intellectual journalism of Valiunas' variety sucks you in--but after that, you begin to become wary of folks who try to tell you that almost nothing is as important as what they happen to be writing on.

The most telling sentence in the article is this one: "He drew the line, however, at intelligent women; those, he said, he didn’t know what to do with."

No. I guess not.

As an aside, my captcha words for this post were: feminine and share

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