“Drop it man, someone’s here!” screams my friend John (altered name) while I’m gazing at an old issue of Playboy. Earlier that day in Italy’s countryside on a joint family vacation we’d been exploring the premises. The chosen place to hold this vacation at was a vacant Italian monastery and that’s where I saw my first issue of Playboy. Little had I known Jesus Christ would be an omen to a mediocre erotic magazine I had heard so much about as a teenager. Most of us know what Playboy is, what they stand for and what they don’t stand for. A men’s magazine (whom are straight or bi-sexual), publishing nude and erotic editorials of women, thinking out of the box on the portrayal of western society. Playboy recently attempted at rebranding their franchise to be more politically correct while patching stereotypes of its past decades of an augmented portrayal of sex, gender and most importantly women.
On the cover of the March 2016 issue of Playboy is the strikingly beautiful Sarah McDaniel. McDaniel, a social media discovered model, pretends to be taking a selfie, while actually being photographed by Theo Wenner, gazing into his lens with her unmatching colored eyes and the foreground ‘heyyy ;)’ is presented in a Snapchat filter. Modern Day Flirting? You might say so, unprecedented numbers of teenagers are flocking from Facebook and Twitter to Snapchat’s 24 hour cycle and unpermanency. Teenagers nowadays use Snapchat for its unpermanent nature whatever the reason if it’s to send a picture of their private parts or just goof around, who knows, I certainly don’t, but this app does. The fact Playboy used this cover photo on how technology is ruling a lot of people’s lives when it comes to, well sadly, everything and the magazine is aiming to appeal to Gen Z.
To be honest, this is the first issue of Playboy I have ever read and rightfully so. The magazine features more than fifty percent advertising and articles regarding some mainstream scandal or concept like sexting or how technology is overtaking our lives doesn’t levitate the discourse of the case study. The journalism isn’t bad it just doesn’t appeal to a weekend warrior. #FreeTheNipple
Playboy went on the Instagram friendly route, meaning no nipples and private parts, for both genders, but their tokenization is far more deep than its past nude and none-nude models. There’s no diversity in the models featured in this specific issue and some articles even bring up the concept of feminism. For a men’s erotica magazine to bring up feminist concepts is like a dictator claiming his state has democratic rights.
Sexual tokenization is far more deep than nudity, it’s the framing, discussion and graphic suggestions the pages radiate to the reader and observers. Feminism argues that beauty is a social construct. For instance, a typical woman, as viewed by society, should be: thin, have long hair but no body hair, wear makeup, revealing clothes and high heels. Society expects women to meet these criteria if they wish to be called beautiful and Playboy reaffirms these premises, even if it’s cover girl doesn’t have matching eye colors.
CEO Scott Flanders told CNN in an interview ”I think in today's world it's sort of unrealistic to think that anyone's subscribing to Playboy magazine because they can't find nudity anywhere else," Flanders said. "That would be a rather un-creative subscriber." If the search for nudity or sexual content is what makes a magazine’s subscriber creative or not is rather a odd premise, what’s clear is, Playboy is a steakhouse gone Vegan due too cultural trends.
Wether Playboy successfully reached their rebranding goals has yet to be determined one less nipple at a time.