Saturday, May 10, 2008

It might be time to hang up the smoking jacket. For good.

Hugh Hefner has arguably influenced American culture more than any other living person. The magazine(s), the clubs, the television programs, the ideology- this is a guy that's accomplished more in his pajamas than entire seasons worth of Banana Republic chinos (and their collective owners) will in a lifetime. That said, it may be time for Hugh to finally exit stage right. I guess I could have made the same request when The Girls Next Door started airing, but I wanted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

The saddest part was that it probably wasn't even Hugh's idea. I'm sure he would've been happy to just lounge around the grotto with Jimmy Caan and a bunch of blondes . I'm guessing he didn't even know who Hannah Montana was until a couple of weeks ago. This story has all the markings of an overeager publicist looking to capitalize on a story that otherwise would've worked its way through the news cycle long ago.

We all know about the Hannah Montana-Vanity Fair-Annie Leibovitz photo imbroglio. Granted, it was creepy. And exploitative. Nakedly ambitious. Strange. Not how most people would "position" their 15 year old daughter. And on and on.

But the story would have gone away. Until Hugh's publicist got to thinking.

Says Hugh: "Sure, she'd be welcomed in the magazine," he told "Extra." "Very pretty lady." (Ed. Note: I wonder if Mark McGrath did the interview. I also wonder why Mark McGrath left Sugar Ray to host Extra. Is hosting a celebrity gossip tv show really higher on the totem pole than fronting a (craptastic) rock band? Is there something about growing old as Pat O'Brien that's cooler than growing old as Steven Tyler? This might go down as one of the most peculiar career changes ever.)

And: "I think to make such a big to-do over something as innocent as those photos, I think is a reflection on how schizophrenic America is about sexuality."

Um.... yeah. I would agree that America is schizophrenic about sexuality. I'm not sure, however, this was the appropriate time to be sending out feelers to a 15 year old girl about posing naked in a magazine. It just seems wrong to me. Call me James Dobson.

Maybe Neil Young was right, at least so far as cultural icons are concerned.

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