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  2. 2. Why look at Playboy?<br />Magazines provide a wealth of information about values and assumptions in society.<br />Unlike today, magazines in the cold war era did not impose cultural standards on their readers, on the contrary, editors tried to follow social trends in order to target a mass audience as possible.<br />Therefore, although on studying Playboy we cannot have a completely accurate representation of man in 1950s, we can see the general cultural values prevalent at that time. <br />
  3. 3. The First Playboy<br />Created December 1953 by Hugh Hefner, devoted to celebrating the modern single male at leisure.<br />Overnight sensation: 70,000 copies sold of first issue by 1956 half million issues sold!<br />"The 1950s, that post-war era, was very conservative, politically and socially and sexually, and not everybody was happy about that. The magazine was a huge success in circulation, but we had problems selling advertising. Initially, I refused to take the kind of advertising that the pulp magazines would get. I figured if we took those, we'd never break into the high end of the advertising market." (Hefner)<br /> The strategy worked: themed parties on College campuses inspired and an ad campaign titled "What Sort of Man Reads Playboy?" emphasized the magazine's educated, sophisticated readership, encouraging mainstream advertisers to get beyond any prejudices about the magazine's nude photos. <br />The magazine’s claim to fame- the centrefold and the playmate- became cultural icons very quickly<br />
  4. 4. The Content<br />‘Playboy’ was presented as a multi-faceted package of masculinity geared towards younger unmarried man, (but in truth the readership was much wider than this).<br />Fiction, cooking, advice and fashion were all presented to the “post-war urban male” in a package of humour and satire.<br />The magazine captured the new materialism taking over the country with its representations of men as consumers.<br />
  5. 5. The Content cont.<br />Typical non-fiction articles tended to be about jazz music and sports: <br /> “The Sport of Sport Car Racing”<br /> “Kenton: the Man and his Music”<br />Lots of fashion advice from choosing cufflinks to raincoats<br />Cooking<br />Travel pieces<br />Satirical advice pieces like: “How to Choose your First Wife” and “The Great Guessing Game” on the fun of relationships. <br />Half of each issue full of fiction-adventure stories, relationship stories and racy ones!<br />Celebrity interest pieces e.g. on Hollywood actresses: “Will Success Spoil Jane Mansfield?” <br />Cartoons<br />The Centrefold<br />Although, the fixation on women and sex was ever present the magazine also tried to transform cooking and decor, traditional feminine activities into manly pursuits, without it seeming homosexual.<br />
  6. 6. Ideology and the ‘Playboy’ <br />The magazine seemed to bring men together: the Letters Page showed that it was often shared and talked about in male circles. <br />Although the goal of consumerism was unattainable by many readers, the concept of the ‘playboy’ remained an ideal.<br />For the first time a men’s magazine was not fashioned around an interest but a lifestyle.<br />The ‘Playboy’ persona was developed through careful content choices and the editorial treatment of readers: “All of Playboy readers are capable of handling 3 or 4 women at a time without taxing themselves”<br />The magazine produced an alternative middle class masculinity based on a distinctive urban good life of pleasurable consumption.<br />The Playboy was suave, well-off, urban, young, jazz fan, a sexual aggressor and above all a consumer(this mirrored the dominant domestic goddess of the 50s- a loving mother, devoted wife, talented cook, housekeeper and also a consumer.<br />
  7. 7. Most readers saw the magazine as entertainment. <br />One Playboy reader sums it up best:<br />“Your magazine is a parody of the virtues and morals upheld by a majority of people… and is the most thoroughly entertaining publication on the market”.<br />