From An Online Conversation About Hugh Hefner: A Man’s Lament At The Insidious Damage

 

“When I was young, it seemed that the prevailing wisdom was that women were the victims of this pornographic society that he labored to usher in. To think that not all that long ago, only real creeps would have a subscription to Penthouse, or Hustler. That was rough stuff back then.
The real victims of porn are of course men and women. Equally. Women have to live in this world where men are frequently damaged by this thing, and men have to have been damaged, even if that damage has been normalized, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
It messes with your neurology, your survival skills that were hard wired, long long before we were even human.

To me his life seemed like a garish cartoon. Weezer wrote a song about his mansion. It was a rock bottom low point for the music of my generation, that being X. Especially being that they were capable of much better; it seemed to represent this…bottom, this inevitable attraction to something that almost can’t be avoided due to its ubiquitousness, and it’s one of the handful of songs that have a built in, spoken word apology to their fans for ever having been so honest about their most base assessment of ‘success’. Beverly Hills is where you want to be? Really? Why?

I remember watching his reality show while alone in front of the TV, and there was this woman who should have been living a life somewhere, but instead she was forcing a smile out onto the stage her face had become, obviously repulsed to have sit there, listening, not watching but listening to episodes of Flash Gordon on a radio with the Hef. That was the meaning, the essence of a life well lived, to enjoy the same banalities that thrilled your pre pubescent self, with an endless round of compliant human love dolls.”

“Success, success, success…what does it matter? I’ve been shattered. ”
-Mick Jagger.

 

–Stephen Ericson

 

 

 

[This comment came from a Facebook Thread that began when I wrote this, in a state of extreme aggravation.]

[I will post it in the comments section. Maybe.]

 

CF

 

 

Comments

  1. Harrell Guy Graham says:

    If it weren’t for Playboy I wouldn’t have been radicalized at such a young age.

    The reason I picked up Playboy as a pubescent teenager was because of the sex. But that lead to reading the articles and interviews in Playboy. Some of the writers Playboy featured were Germain Greer, Betty Friedan, Margaret Atwood, Camille Paglia, Ayn Rand, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcom X & Martin Luther King (both interviewed by Alex Hailey), Arnold Toynbee, Bertrand Russell, Bob Dylan, Fidel Castro, Jean-Paul Sartre, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Arthur C Clarke, Haruki Murakami, Ursula Le Guin, Ian Fleming, Ray Bradbury, Vladimir Nabokov, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    After my puberty, I bought Playboy only for the articles and would skip the pic pages. Playboy helped me to become a feminist, a radical, and a whole lot more (interested in reading great writers, for one thing).

    Thank you Hugh Hefner. R.I.P.

    • Stephen Ericson says:

      “Playboy helped me to become a feminist”

      I’m sure it did.

    • Brother Strawberry says:

      You failed to mention Playboy publishing Kurt Vonnegut!!
      An interview in the July 73 issue, Slapstick in the September 1976 issue, Kurt debating Love, movies, war and art with his best friend Joseph Heller in May 92, Timequake in December 97 and unpublished fiction by Kurt in the September 2009 issue.
      A copy of each sits on the shelf that holds my collection of everything written by my friend and brother Kurt Vonnegut.
      They were given to me, to help complete my collection, by my radicallyfeminist sister.

      Just sayin…

      God bless you Mister Hefner. RIP

    • Celia Farber says:

      Yeah but not one name on this list is not part of the literary canon that anybody could publish with their hands tied, blindfolded.

  2. john powell says:

    Mr. Ericson wrote, “The real victims of porn are of course men and women. Equally.”

    Come on, dude. You’ve been the “victim” of porn?

    When was the last time you were gang raped?

    When was the last time you were slipped a quaalude in a drink, and then woke up naked and bleeding from your anus?

    When was the last time you were socially, culturally and economically pressured (or commanded) to alluringly display your curves and cleavage at the workplace, at a party, on a school campus, on a beach, etc., etc.?

    When was the last time you were enveloped by, and effectively caged inside a culture which pounds out, blares out, favorably spotlights, commercializes, and maintains cultic saturation of the demand that being a sex object is what males and their sons were born for?

    When was the last time you were a young girl, who is unceasingly, brutally, perversely, pathologically being psychologically assaulted, humiliated, intimidated, degraded, dehumanized, delegitimized, tormented and tortured by such a demand?

    Yes, porn and its playboy culture of objectification does affect males, some more than others, but NONE equally as horribly as it affects women and girls.

    Any honest and judicially-competent man, who considers the evidence unselfishly, could not and would not claim his eqivalence to the victimization inflicted on females by the consequences of porn and playboy culture.

    • Stephen Ericson says:

      I’ve never watched the type of porn where a girl is drugged and raped John, and in that sense I guess I’ve got a way to go on the Bundy scale, which if it truly existed (so far I don’t think it’s been actually codified) would show how far down the degenerate worm hole you’ve gotten yourself. I’m still on the “normal” side of that, thankfully*. However, if there came a time when I happen across it and was indeed titillated by what I saw, then I too would be a victim. Just as I’m a victim of the Holocaust even while neither I nor my grandparents died during it, because it was a crime against humanity. All of humanity.
      Sure there are degrees of victimization, but again, I don’t watch that kind of porn, so as of yet I’m not one.

      “When was the last time you were enveloped by, and effectively caged inside a culture which pounds out, blares out, favorably spotlights, commercializes, and maintains cultic saturation of the demand that being a sex object is what males and their sons were born for”

      That would be right now.

      • Stephen Ericson says:

        “Any honest and judicially-competent man, who considers the evidence unselfishly, could not and would not claim his eqivalence to the victimization inflicted on females by the consequences of porn and playboy culture.”

        I think you’re conflating issues purposefully. Drugging someone and raping them is illegal. Making porn isn’t. That porn isn’t illegal doesn’t make it devoid of victims, victims that are yes, equally women and men who both share the distorted world it reflects and then reflects back to it.
        . I think you’re smart enough to know the difference between the victim of a crime and the victim of social change. But what do I know, perhaps you’re not?

  3. Marcy J. Gordon says:

    Throughout his life, Hugh Hefner referred to women as “objects.” He truly believed that, and he promoted this worldview to too many men (and women) who took it to heart. I was listening to WQXR radio in New York the morning Hefner’s death was announced. After the news, the radio announcer (Jeff Spurgeon) came on and joked, “He may have died at 91, but emotionally he never got any older than 15.” That was right on point and all too true!

  4. Melvin Ross says:

    Musically complex and made clear. Well done.

  5. Stephen Ericson says:

    Ray, I’m sorry that Nickelback had a similar song that but I am in fact quite sure it was Weezer, if you youtube ‘Weezer Beverly Hills’ you’ll see it. Heffner is in it, and it’s pathetic.
    And yes, you are correct, Bundy crystallized the pornographic zeitgeist.

    I’m moved that my comment was posted here, and I’m also moved that people found it to be meaningful. Thank you.

  6. Ray Wesolowski says:

    Well written Stephen Ericson. The only additions I would make would be referencing Theodore Bundy’s take on pornography and I believe that your first song reference was Nickel Back not Weezer. Apologizes if they had similar song!

  7. Paul Murray says:

    Yes, Stephen Ericson, yes.
    To extend the generalised victimhood vicariously pays women a profound disservice and perpetuates the very thing which rankled in the first place.
    If we’re not careful, the entire world will function as a society of hapless victims and in that event, those we seek to depose will have won…

  8. Berenice Kavanagh says:

    Thank you, Stephen, and thanks Celia for sending it on. As one currently accompanying a family child abuse case, what strikes me personally, here, is how life-being-turned-into-‘theatre’ is such mighty and seductive weapon, blurring values, mesmerising personalities and then mesmerising those who are passively mesmerised by those mesmerised personalities… in a chain reaction pervasively ‘convincing’ unreality that gets us further and further and further from Love, and love’s real actions. What I noticed in the photograph [ obituary, Huffington Post ] – Hugh Hefner’s eyes – they had no love in them.
    In the case that I am accompanying, the children use bizarre theatrical terms with which they have been inoculated, during the act. Returning home with manifest physical injuries caused by the abuse, a very young child, pointing to that part of her body, her explanatory narrative accompanying the injury, laced with euphemisms disclosing the ‘theatrical’ context in which her present suffering was inflicted.
    Thus a perpetrator is using ‘theatrical techniques’ as part of achieving compliance.
    Is it through the blurring of ‘how we see things’ ..and HOW it can be ‘CAUSED that we see things’ ..that major wrongs are presented as mere ‘slights of hand’ ? Once these are ‘normalised’ ..wrong is ‘clothed’, smeared over, in ‘It’s Okay, why not?’. And we stop SEEING, or only ‘see’ habitually?
    How refreshing is Stephen’s comment, in this sense! He guards a vital thing.

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