Thursday, January 14, 2010

Aguila Bait

At TNR's The Book Tom Bissell reviews Elizabeth Fraterrigo's Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America. The opening graph:

The historian Elizabeth Fraterrigo asks us to accept a somewhat unlikely premise, which is this: A titty magazine that has been culturally irrelevant since the late 1970s was at the forefront of many of this nation’s most important social upheavals and reconfigurations. It is to her book’s credit—and, it must be said, to Playboy’s—that one closes her book largely convinced that she is right.

Hopefully this guy will weigh in, as he knows of which he speaks on this particular cultural question.

1 comment:

El Aguila said...

I don't know if I agree or disagree with Tom Bissell or with Elizabeth Fraterrigo as explained by Bissell.

But I know that this generation of society will appreciate Playboy and Hefner only when both are gone, which is probably sooner than later. As a 40-something who has never known a world without Playboy, I have begun to evaluate my mortality as I ponder whether or not to keep my Playboy subscription. A subscription I have had since I was fifteen.

I would argue that the value of Playboy is beyond that of a magazine since its place in the world, is too large to evaluate within the context of US society or by 21st century standards.

It has maintained its position in Popular Culture despite momentous changes in technology and society that have de-romanticized other forms of adult entertainment, i.e. stag films, X-rated movies such as the Last Tango in Paris, the music industry, and variety shows hosted by members of the Rat Pack.

I suggest measuring the value of Playboy in a similar manner that one would assess the place of baseball in today's era of sports. Playboy is still highly sexual in a very real intellectual sense that I have only appreciated in the last ten years as I began reading the articles first and admiring the pictures second.

For example who would turn down a chance to attend a party at the Playboy mansion or attend a ball game at Fenway Park? Not anyone I would call normal.

I am preparing for classes tomorrow, but as far as I am concerned Fraterrigo is full of shit.