Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Then get bored by. That is what I take away from this interesting piece of news:
Opening a copy of Playboy magazine on an airplane or at a hair salon may no longer have people raising their eyebrows.
Playboy will no longer publish images of fully nude women in its magazine beginning this spring. The move comes as part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, Playboy Enterprises, Inc., announced Tuesday. The magazine will still feature women in provocative poses, but they will no longer bare all when the March issue is released in February, according to a statement from Playboy.
The onslaught of Internet pornography has made the nude images in Playboy “passé,” Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive, told the New York Times.
Go here to read the rest. Hugh Hefner made pornography mainstream in the West, but his magazine has been losing money for quite some time. When your trade is peddling images of female flesh, well, women can only get so naked. Playboy, which started out with topless nudes, eventually went to pictures that would not be out of place in training manuals for gynecologists. They usually did this after competitors would take some of their market share by breaching a new frontier of nudity. This race to the bottom reached its nadir long ago. With the internet, images of completely naked woman and men, often with some perversion tossed in, is only a click away. In such a world why pay for Playboy?
Playboy initially succeeded because it was ably to sell itself as sin packaged in an alluring form. Hefner, whose philosophical musings are almost always unintentionally hilarious, once opined that Playboy succeeded because it had the wholesome girl next girl strip naked. Nothing could be further from the truth. What success Playboy had was as a result of being initially taboo, which is the only real excitement that sin ever has. The apple was only an apple in the Garden until Adam and Eve were told not to eat of it. Once the taboo is gone the thrill of sin is usually replaced by ennui and the habit of sin.
No, the truth about sin is that it tends to be a boring process of repetition long after the thrill of the sin has vanished. The Devil is a liar is a maxim that I wish more people took to heart. In the baptismal vows we recite:
V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.
Satan always takes something, our souls, for literally nothing, boring sins with which our lives are destroyed by us.
You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. The Christians describe the Enemy as one “without whom Nothing is strong”. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.
CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Vice is its own boring punishment.