Bob Guccione Jr. just sent me his essay on his father’s rival, High Hefner, tonight. Wonderfully written, starting with the perfect opening lines:
“My father hated Hugh Hefner. Which I always thought was irrational and, by the end of his life, just force of habit, something he no longer felt with any real emotion, a default position for which the source code had long been lost.”
Read the full essay here:
These two pieces on Hefner are darker, angrier–As much as I love Bob’s writing, humor, and sense of the absurd, I lean toward agreeing with these perspectives:
“And his appreciation of male-female difference was rotten, too — the leering predatory sort of appreciation, the Cosby-Clinton-Trump sort, the sort that nicknames quaaludes “thigh openers” and expects the girls to laugh, the sort that prefers breast implants to female intellect and rents the charms of youth to escape the realities of age.
No doubt what Hefner offered America somebody else would have offered in his place, and the changes he helped hasten would have come rushing in without him.
But in every way that mattered he made those changes worse, our culture coarser and crueler and more sterile than liberalism or feminism or freedom of speech required. And in every way that mattered his life story proved that we were wrong to listen to him, because at the end of the long slide lay only a degraded, priapic senility, or the desperate gaiety of Prince Prospero’s court with the Red Death at the door.
Now that death has taken him, we should examine our own sins. Liberals should ask why their crusade for freedom and equality found itself with such a captain, and what his legacy says about their cause. Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.”
Susan Brownmiller’s essay is also biting, incisive, and elemental:
“Women aren’t bunnies, they’re not rabbits, they’re human beings,” I added. Then, addressing Hugh Hefner directly, I said, “The day you come out here with a cottontail attached to your rear end …”
Mr. Hefner called Sally and me “girls.” I told him that, as a 35 year old, I believed I qualified as a woman.”
These two essays harmonize with some of the issues Stephen Ericson tackled, from the male perspective.