Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thor’s Day: Why Christians aren’t celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 move

By Kyle  Garza

In case you didn’t already know, millions of Americans buy pornography subscriptions for their children every year, especially on Christmas or birthdays. No, they aren’t filling out the paperwork to have Playboy or Hustler delivered to their doorstep once a month in finely wrapped plastic. They are, however, buying them small handheld portals to pornography, like iPhones and iPads.
    Not long ago, Playboy brought this case to public attention, and because Hefner’s magazine dynasty can’t compete with the accessibility advantages that modern handheld computers afford porn-seekers, Playboy has decided to stop publishing nude photos of its models, starting next March. According to Scott Flanders, Playboy’s chief executive, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” so for the magazine to continue publishing nude women would just be “passé at this juncture.”
    You’d probably assume, as I would, that the Christian community’s response would be a unanimous “Praise the Lord!” or “Yay, God!”
    But it hasn’t been. As much as Christians enjoy the beautifully poetic imagery of being “clothed in righteousness” in Heaven, the news that Playboy’s models will be clothed doesn’t lift any spirits. But why not?
    Easy answer: Playboy is clothing women only because images of their naked bodies aren’t selling well, not because the magazine is repenting of its hedonistic ideology.


But we ought not too quickly forget that Playboy was well-received by many in its prime because the emergence of Playboy’s prevalence in America came with great intentions: empower women, eliminate prudish religious shame, help young college girls make easy money, keep the men “sated.” The products we see today are disastrous: the female form is an object now, one to be consumed, traded, and marketed. All too commonly the narrative is told of divorces resulting from women who “couldn’t compete” with the buxom babes on their husband’s screen. When you buy groceries, you can see Playboy’s cousins occasionally attempting to titillate you right next to the gum and Tic Tacs, whether you want to be titillated or not.
    Really, no one should be celebrating this news, Christian or otherwise, except perhaps the profiting executives of all the porn websites that have taken advantage of humanity’s insatiable desire for self-gratification and consumption of carnal visual stimuli.
    The younger generation of porn addicts is hardly complaining though. Playboy’s Scott Flanders is absolutely right. The next generation of porn customers know that (right now at least) porn is free, easily accessible, available in high def, and totally private via smartphone. We can hardly even gauge what sort of effects this will have on the current generation of porn addicts. Give Google five minutes of your time (if you dare to have these kinds of inquiries in your search history), and you’ll find that, according to neuroscientists, pornography addictions are becoming increasingly likened to major drug and alcohol abuse. Further, that 2/3 of men are searching for pornography on their own devices at least once a month, and 1/3 are returning to it every single day. And sadly, the statistics aren’t much better when looking at the polled Christian crowd.
    The fact of the matter is that pornography’s current web prevalence is shaping our cultural narrative of beauty, sex, and marital intimacy, and the new narrative looks grim. The modern mantra of “Do whatever you want with whomever you want so long as it isn’t hurting anyone” has helped to bludgeon the archetype that sexuality is good only when expressed between a husband and a wife within the safe boundaries of marriage. Pornography subverts that archetype by affirming that any deviant form of sexual lust is easily confineable to one’s private life, out of the reach of others, where no one is harmed. Pornography’s power lies in its ability to convince an enticed mind that “looking” does no harm.


So doesn’t Playboy’s move toward censorship help reconstruct a healthy cultural narrative about sex? Not really. Our cultural narrative of sexuality will continue to decay by subterfuge because Playboy can’t escape its association with pornography that actually does contain nudity. Why? Because Playboy played a vital role as the impetus for normalizing pornography. Today, Playboy has found itself backed into a corner because its paying public has grown inured to its still images of a naked female form. So it’s back to basics for Playboy: tantalize and tease and titillate – don’t deliver everything the customer wants.
Hugh Hefner
    Inevitably, Playboy has found itself swallowed by the monster it created. Hugh underestimated humanity’s insatiable desire for “more,” always “more, more, more.” Human lust isn’t the kind of sin that finds itself happily contented with what it already has. That’s why the temptation of pornography doesn’t lose its allure once someone enters a blissful marital sex life. Most internet pornography is now free, sure, but we (especially our youth) are still buying its lies: that sex is more pleasurable with more aesthetically attractive people; that tantalizing one’s sex drive with any nude person is innocent and harms no one; that by objectifying people – that is to say, by using them as objects, means to an end, sources of personal gratification, pleasure, entertainment – we don’t alter the very fabric of our minds and culture.
    So don’t expect to see Christians celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 move. The problem isn’t what the girls are (or aren’t) wearing. The problem lies within the very heart of man, for “the heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)


Copyright © 2015 by Kyle Garza

11 comments:

  1. Kyle, I was delighted that you threw in a quotation from Jeremiah, for just yesterday I saw a North Carolina license plate referring to Jeremiah and made a note to look it up: JER32V17. "Nothing too hard" for God, it says. Do you think the Lord's hand is at work here?

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    1. What do both God and masturbators have in common? They both feel "He has the whole world in His hand."

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  2. My mentioning the license plate reminded Kyle "of all the headlines after PornHub had its advertisement taken down from Times Square." Not having heard of PornHub (Kyle is obviously much more up on pornography than I am), I looked it up. Here are a few of the headlines I found:
    "Pornhub Erects Huge Billboard in Times Square..."
    "Pornhub Times Square Billboard Meets Stiff Opposition, Comes Down"
    "PornHub can't keep it up...."
        And, of course, I came to realize that it wasn't my mentioning the license plate, but my reference to the Lord's hand that had reminded Kyle of the headlines' use of sexual allusions....

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  3. I think the headlines serve as another ominous testimony to what our culture thinks of pornography: just another thing to laugh away in daily life.

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    1. Kyle, that is an astute observation, if ever I heard one, and one of the most adroitly put observations you have ever phrased.There are so very many things to laugh away – or at least to deal with in some fashion, in order to preserve our ability to go on despite all. For what, after all, can we do about pornography, or elephant poaching, or....At least pornography is one thing that we can appropriately laugh at rather than cry our eyes out.

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    2. From what I've read, there has actually been a push since 2006 to create a new .xxx domain name that would at least take a step in the right direction of helping parents curb their childrens' exposure to pornography on their own devices.

      Ideally, in the future, perhaps our culture would begin to view pornography in the same way it does prostitution, rather than condone the damage done by saying there is nothing we can do about it.

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    3. Kyle, I forgot to look at my note to get back to you on your comment [now over two weeks ago]. I had not heard of the .xxx domain, which, I agree, is something that can "be done about pornography." I hope it helps.
          Soon after reading your comment, I noticed an article in the NY Times about something else that might be done: "Schools Can’t Stop Kids From Sexting. More Technology Can." Its tagline is: "There are serious risks associated with teenagers exchanging nude photos but it isn’t the dangerous scourge that most adults imagine."

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    4. Kyle, I forgot to look at my note to get back to you on your comment [now over two weeks ago]. I had not heard of the .xxx domain, which, I agree, is something that can "be done about pornography." I hope it helps.
          Soon after reading your comment, I noticed an article in the NY Times about something else that might be done: "Schools Can’t Stop Kids From Sexting. More Technology Can." Its tagline is: "There are serious risks associated with teenagers exchanging nude photos but it isn’t the dangerous scourge that most adults imagine."

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    5. That article's take on sexting is indeed interesting. I wish there were a way to compare the very socio-personal activity of sexting to pornography addiction, which is often more concealed and private.

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    6. I trust that you will discover a way to compare them. Please share the results with us.

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  4. Very, very well written Kyle. I am grateful for the censorship soon to be happening.

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