4 Things That May Happen Since Playboy Isn't Printing Nude Photos Anymore.

He's reading it for the articles.
He's reading it for the articles.

In a world where the Internet has caused enormous and rapid changes in how people communicate and exchange information, it still came as a mild shock to many when Playboy recently announced that it would no longer be featuring photos of nude women in the print edition of its iconic magazine. Here are a few thoughts about what this move might mean in the grand scheme of things.

The only place we might find men's magazines in the future.
The only place we might find men's magazines in the future.

4. Men's Magazines Are Dying.

Changes caused by the Internet continuously send tremors through the publishing world, or at least among those who wish to see books and periodicals continue to be viable in a physical format. Almost everyone with knowledge of modern trends seems to think that print media is on its way out — magazines and newspapers are mostly transitioning toward having a heavy online presence, and the print editions are getting smaller and smaller. Still, Playboy was once a hugely powerful social force in our society, and the news its print circulation is about a sixth of what it was at the magazine's peak points to a massive downturn in the popularity of men's magazines…or, to be more specific, men's pornographic magazines. After all, why would the average person interested in seeing photos of naked women go to the trouble and expense of buying a physical copy of a magazine? Nearly all of us have access to the Internet, and pornography of just about any type is only a few clicks away. For decades that wasn't the case, and people who wanted to see photos of nude models had no choice but to head down to a newsstand that carried those sorts of men's magazines or to subscribe to them through the mail. In a way, Playboy's decision to remove nude photos is a sign that it has become a victim of its own success — Hugh Hefner's vision of a world where sex and erotic content were more freely accessible has largely come true, and now "classy" nude pictorials in a men's magazine seem almost old-fashioned and quaint.

That bunny head is still a powerful marketing symbol.
That bunny head is still a powerful marketing symbol.

3. It Could Point to Playboy Diversifying As a Brand.

Despite some tough times in recent years maintaining dominance as providers of the mildly pornographic content that Hefner pioneered, the Playboy brand is one of the most recognized across the world. That bunny head is nearly as iconic as the Coke logo or Mickey Mouse, and while Playboy magazine might be seeing some rough times, the Playboy brand still has a lot of strength. With its current leadership pointing to modernizing its media output and reaching to a younger audience, there's a chance that a more PG-13 image could expand the company's appeal beyond its traditional audience. While it's probably too early to predict that Playboy could ever shake its association with pornography entirely, it could happen over time, and perhaps someday we might see the brand sponsoring sporting events or other tie-ins that it can't right now. Dropping nude pictorials could be the first step in expanding Playboy's empire in ways that would be impossible otherwise.

Seriously, that bunny head is a strong brand image.
Seriously, that bunny head is a strong brand image.

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2. Certain Coming-of-Age Rituals Have Changed.

For years, there were certain coming-of-age events in many boys' lives that centered around Playboy and the competing magazines it inspired. For many young men in previous generations, seeing a Playboy centerfold might be the first time they ever got to see a seductive-looking nude woman. Finding their father's secret stash of men's magazines or having a friend show them a copy he'd gotten hold of was part of growing up for a lot of teenage boys. Whether that was right or wrong or was completely normal, I'm not the one to determine. It was very common, however, and that is a scenario unlikely to play out in the future. It all comes back to the fact that physical magazines are dying, the average teenage male today almost certainly has seen hardcore pornography on the Internet and he doesn't have a hidden stack of Playboy or Hustler magazines behind his sock drawer. So unless his parents are snooping around Junior's computer, there also won't be any more of the fabled "Mom found my Playboys" family drama moments in that teenager's life.

There are a lot of great articles in those boxes.
There are a lot of great articles in those boxes.

1. "I Just Read It for the Articles" Will Sound Reasonable.

Honestly, Playboy magazine has had really good, well-written pieces throughout its history, but the famous excuse wasn't always one everyone believed. Despite having interviews with everyone from Miles Davis to Jimmy Carter, and many other notable people and columnists over its history, the magazine probably never got a lot of people to buy into the notion that readers picked it up "for the articles."

Now, with Playboy's decision to drop nude pictorials in the print edition and to present a more modern and "clean" look that emphasizes art, perhaps people reading the magazine will finally be able to persuade critics that the only reason they're interested in Playboy is that the articles are good.

Our culture has changed very quickly and continues to, and it looks like the empire Hugh Hefner created is trying to change with it.


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