REACHING FOR PARADISE: The Playboy Vision of America by Thomas Weyr

REACHING FOR PARADISE: The Playboy Vision of America

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Weyr wouldn't lower his brow enough to read Playboy for more than two decades, but finally a ""high enough advance"" elicited his ""weary"" concession to write about it--to assess the cultural impact of the magazine and its spin-off enterprises. So he came to the subject ""as the virgin to the child--with absolute innocence""; he leaves it a critical apologist, convinced that ""no intelligent reader can do without [Playboy] and pretend to any serious understanding about the United States."" To make his case for the magazine's influence, Weyr looks at its contents instead of its audience, on the assumption that it's read and absorbed in toto. But while everyone knows that there's more to Playboy than a centerfold, the ""more"" that sells might be the racy cartoons, say, and not the issue-oriented articles Weyr touts. And which he catalogs faithfully, month by month: who wrote what on religion, drugs, civil rights, Vietnam. The question however is who read what: has Playboy's reach exceeded its grasp? If so, those big names seduced by the promise of big readerships are getting nothing for their labors except big money. . . which Hefner is willing to pay because quality-writing begets quality-ads and massages the editorial egos Weyr meets. His segments on Hefner himself are teasers--isolated patches of unexpected detail or depth--and his words on the Playmates are limited. As for the largely ill-advised Playboy Enterprises (key clubs, resorts, books, films, records, and more), Weyr settles for recording their indicative slide on the Stock Exchange, reversing his substantive approach to the magazine. He has the seeds of several books here and this one is unruly; had he concentrated on a single front, he might not have taken just the most accessible way in and out of a phenomenon.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Times Books