This is one of those things where you think, WTF? Nude pictorials made Playboy!
That is correct. But in 2015, those pictorials are the most antiquated thing about the magazine, so it makes perfect sense to take them out.
The Internet has won porn. There is no question about that. If it became illegal right this minute to post one more pornographic picture online, there would still be enough nudity on the Internet for a dozen eternities. It’s easy to find. Scratch that — even many innocuous search terms pull up porn, and most engines have a safe-search option, so you actively have to opt out of finding it.
This is a far, far cry from print erotica’s appeal. There was a thrill to buying, or finding, nudie magazines in an age where salacious JPEGs weren’t nanoseconds away. Porn’s coy status in those days, the relative tameness of movies and TV, and limited home technology meant that, in their heyday, the magazines were your best avenue to seeing it all.
For decades, the biggest mental block to buying an issue of Playboy was that the cashier knew you were angling to ogle. These days, the block lies in purchasing something that is so aggressively free online. Which is why Playboy’s decision makes perfect sense — the magazine has long been so much more than its steamier side, and it’s reached a point where the pics are becoming a liability.
Playboy has long offered some of the sharpest writing and the most in-depth interviews of any magazine. Hugh Hefner sought to create a legitimate think book for the sophisticated gentleman (or gentlewoman). The more immediate and obvious allure aside, he did that.
The problem in this day and age is that Playboy, like all media outlets, is looking to expand its audience. Online, this requires articles that are sharable to a wide audience. Playboy has, and has always had, those. But if people think clicking on a Playboy link is going to inundate their screen with nudity, they’re not going to bother. Nor will they want to share said link for the same reason. Likewise, if someone would theoretically purchase a print Playboy magazine for the articles but is turned off by the prospect of buying porn, then the magazine does itself a disservice.
In recent weeks, I’ve seen an uptick in shared articles from Playboy on social media. The site recently separated its content from its pics, so that might be the reason. Playboy has remembered that it has articles, too, and wants to be part of the conversation in which we all engage every day.
The magazine is getting smart about its audience, its reputation and its reality. Just as it did 62 years ago, it’s once again breaking ground.