Viewer’s Choice: Hugh Hefner
So I’ve been watching a lot of porn lately.
No, not for that. Jeez. No, I’m doing research for a new web series I’m writing (it’s going to be super awesome and I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it as it comes along. DISCLAIMER: it’s not going to be actual pornography, so you can all relax). Anyways, as an additional, more academic approach to the topic, I’ve also been watching a lot of documentaries about the porn industry, and Hefner’s biography happened to be one of them.
NOTE: This review was requested by my friend Tim. So we all have him to blame.
Er, I mean…thank.
Running Time: 2 hrs 4 mins
Plot: From his humble beginnings as a cartoonist to one of the most iconic celebrities in America, Hugh Hefner’s life has been one of controversy, conflict and, though it may come as a surprise to some, high ideals and commitment to excellence.
Available on: Netflix
Before watching this documentary, I didn’t really have an opinion on Hugh Hefner. I didn’t like him and I didn’t dislike him. I’ve never been a big fan of Playboy, but it didn’t offend me either. To me, naked women are boring. However, after watching this film, I have to say I have a great respect for Hefner.
Yep, you heard me right. Respect. Now before you get all hot and bothered about how I could possibly respect a man who distributes pornography for a living, read on. Here’s a list of awesome things I didn’t know about Hugh Hefner before I watched this documentary:
- He’s a proponent of free speech. Seems obvious that he would be, but it never really struck me just how involved he was until now.
- He is a ridiculous perfectionist. He reviews every issue, every picture, in painstaking detail to make sure it’s fit for publication. Yes, okay, it’s pictures of naked people. But so what? Commitment to perfection is still commendable in any artistic pursuit, even porn.
- He was a huge civil rights activist. His television show, Playboy’s Penthouse (1959-1960), actually featured a lot of African-American musicians and racially mixed ensembles that couldn’t book a show at most other venues.
- He was an outspoken anti-war figure during Vietnam, and his public appearances reflected that opinion. One event the documentary notes in particular is the appearance of the rock group Country Joe and the Fish on Hefner’s second short-lived television show, Playboy After Dark (1969-1970), where they performed their extremely controversial anti-war song “I Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag” .
He’s also responsible for giving me my new favorite quote to live by: “If I was going to be damned, I wanted to be damned for what I really believed, not what they pretended I believed.” It sounds a little trite, and maybe it is, but as I find myself applying it to situations in my life, it has given me a startling amount of clarity. People are judgmental no matter what. You can’t get around it. So you might as well be judged for what you actually are rather than what people think you are. Be yourself, and everyone else will just have to find a way to deal with it.
Now, I am just as liberated and modern and blah blah blah as the next woman, and as such I don’t presume to tell other women what to do with their lives. Maybe I don’t want to put on rabbit ears and tail (I think I’d look better in bat wings, or maybe as some kind of jungle cat), but far be it for me to tell other women what they can and can’t do with their lives. Maybe Playboy objectifies women as sex objects, but if the women in the photo is fine with it, then that’s fine with me. I know some people will say that this objectification causes men to see all women as sex objects, but to me it’s all about context. Sometimes women are sexual, and sometimes they aren’t, and men are not so stupid that they can’t tell the difference.
Okay, maybe some are. But those men are going act like jerks anyway, naked pictures or no.