Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hot news cooled


Lord knows there are bigger stories this morning. After all, the Cubs, the Chicago Cubs, are moving up in the playoffs. I'm not making this up. 

Seriously, there's always ISIS and global warming and the odd tangle the Middle East has created--Americans and Russians eyeing each other like feral cats on a some kind of leash. I didn't watch, but all the ink seems to spell out a series of Hillary knockouts last night that left the Las Vegas stage bloodied.

There's this too, if you're a disciple: one of the husbands of one of Kardashians passed out in a Nevada brothel.

But the really big news yesterday was Playboy, the mag--that's right, the famous one--has now determined (their circulation down from 5.6 million in 1975 to about 800,000 today) that there will be no more naked women. You heard that right. It's not altogether different than the city of Chicago dumping the Cubs, General Mills dropping Wheaties, or Nike walking away from the shoe market.

No naked women, you say? What's this world coming to?

In case you missed it, the market's saturated. If you want to oogle, you can do it all day long on the screen you're in front of right now and not part with a dime. Religion and sex, some researchers once determined, are the two biggest surfing attractions. Talk about odd bedfellows.

Playboy's not throwing in the towel, it's throwing on the towel. The girls will still be a centerpiece (nothing was said about centerfolds), they just won't be naked. Can you believe it? That's news.

Before Calvinists begin to celebrate the Fourth or Fifth Great Awakening, they need only to remember that today nudity is ubiquitous--think NYC body painters. You might even argue that Playboy is dressing up its girls because the magazine won--we've become a nation of Hugh Hefners. Its bunny logo is a world-wide phenomenon. In China, where nudity is banned except, I suppose, in dark corners, Playboy sweeps up forty percent of its loot with nary a nip slip. 

Besides, they're not going into this dress up blind. Not long ago, I guess (not having visited myself), Playboy's website dropped its own proud flesh and watched as its readership dropped in average age--get this!--from 47 to 30. It's the Millennial bucks everyone's after, and the 30-year-olds started showing up once the girls got dressed. Its web traffic increased in unique users by 12 million clicks a month without skin.

There's nothing moral about it. Nudity had become a loss leader that corporate just couldn't afford. The magazine was tanking at a rate of three million a year. 'Twas a straight-up business decision.

Don't be fooled. Sex still sells and likely always will--or at least into the foreseeable future. Still, if there was ever man bites dog story, this is it: Playboy covers up.

Once upon a time, my parents had dinner at a Playboy club. They're both gone now, so the story can be told. My father worked in sales for a light equipment industry, and one of the jobs he loved best was representing the company at hardware shows around the nation. Who knows how it happened? My parents would not have stumbled into a Playboy Club on their own nor willfully sought one out. It had to do with business. It was a trial, Young Goodman Brown having to venture deep into the forest.

My mother told me the story, trying to restrain herself. To her, it was a hoot. There they sat around a table, at dinner, when one a waitress walked up, busting out all over in little more than a bunny tail. You know. Go ahead and imagine--won't hurt you. 

Anyway, my mom couldn't stop giggling. "You should have seen your dad," she told me. "He was all business." And then she went into this act, as if holding a menu right there in her hands. "I think tonight I'll have the filet,' she mimicked, deepening her voice, acting something akin to the Rock of Gibraltar, as if the tray of breasts the waitress was delivering in his face was no big deal or deals.

Dad blushed when she told the story. Mom roared.

I was raised a Calvinist. 

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