Read the story.
Oh, come off it. Does the world really need more pictures of tits and ass, even those that haven't been airbrushed? And should those pictures be pompously sanctified by the artful addition of "must reads" by "important writers"?
I grew up with a father who subscribed to Playboy, and let me tell you, it sparked some very ugly arguments between my parents, even though my mother was a brainy woman who read avidly. Gee, why didn't she realize that the pictures of girls who looked like they'd just taken lollipops out of their mouths really weren't the point, weren't insulting, and were in fact evidence of my father being brave, a real man, who's not afraid of naked women??!! Why didn't she understand that those cute cartoons of Little Annie Fannie -- the archetypal blond bimbo who hardly noticed it when men eased off her clothes to hump her poor dizzy, distracted, goggle-eyed self -- were nothing more than harmless, colorful asides in a magazine devoted to noble causes, the elevation and liberation of the human spirit, and the exposing of cant and hypocrisy everywhere but in its own pages? Why didn't she just shut up and read the articles?
Then again, Playboy was a big spur for the modern feminist movement, which saved the lives of many of us. The feminist movement needs a poke in the ass these days, so maybe you're right to advocate a restoration of the old Playboy in all its creamy, smarmy, self-satisfied glory. My young daughter could really use the inspiration, too. I'll tell my husband to buck up and subscribe.
-- Natalie Angier
I have only one response to Charles Taylor's article about Playboy: Why is it that men always have to shoehorn naked women into everything that they do, as if the only way that a man will look at something serious is if he's baited with boobs? This is not a conservative view. This is a realistic view of leaving out a large segment of the population's (women's) needs. How about this: Playboy, if it wants to attract a crowd more diverse than its current hetero male audience, should include sophisticated layouts of naked men. I mean, as it stands now, I look at this magazine and it screams This is not for you. I, as a woman, am left out of the equation. Bring me into it if you want to sidestep criticism that naked women and journalism do not make for a society that looks at women as equals.
-- Charlotte Markward
I am pleased to inform Mr. Taylor that I have already found a magazine that meets his criteria. My favored publication is bursting with well-written articles by luminaries from across the political spectrum. In addition to excellent film, movie, and music reviews, they also display a decent selection of brilliant, sensual photography.
All Salon needs is Dan Savage in place of the Forum, and I think Kaminsky can do whatever the hell he pleases.
My only regret is that I do not have a gorgeous print version with which to decorate my coffee table (and guarantee my success for the evening).
-- Bill Walter
I hope that there are some folks in the magazine business that read Charles Taylor's advice and implement some of these ideas. It really is sad how little faith there is in the average reader. On the other hand, the average reader does get lazy. It's a total Catch-22.
I've been working with a group starting up a literary journal here in Detroit. One concept I pushed hard for was that all advertising would be in the back pages, because as a reader, I find ads get in the way of my comprehension. Although I won the battle (for now), that decision has been contentious and frequently challenged.
We just published a prototype issue in order to attract funding. Scattered in amongst all the compliments and constructive criticism, we get comments like, "I think it needs more pictures."
It's easy to have doubts about something new and untested -- doubts which can begin to spread to basic tenets in which I have strong beliefs, like reading and advertising. So thank you Mr. Taylor, for some ammunition I can use the next time someone tells me, "I think there's too much text."
P.S. 1968 Playboy sounds absolutely dreamy.
-- Kelli Kavanaugh
I've an idea. Enlarge the photos in your sex section and incorporate a cute animal logo (maybe a hamster? or a poodle?) into each and every lead photo. Combined with the breadth of articles Salon publishes, the liberal leanings and debates that happen online and in letters Salon becomes the new Playboy (and with just as cool a name). Maybe Salon should take Charles Taylor's advice instead of just letting him give it away. BTW I'm a former Playboy reader of the late '70s-'80s who graduated to the Web 'cause, yeah, that mag's become a rag.
-- Will Wertheim
Regarding the article "When Playboy was Hot": I think magazines that publish high-quality writing by top names in the literary world are wonderful. I think magazines that publish pictures of naked women are fine, too. What I don't understand is why the two should ever meet. As a woman I feel like I'm being told "this literature is not for you." There is no reason why great literature should be published in a magazine that excludes half the population before the first page is turned.
-- L. Darnielle