With the Christmas season in full swing, we are bombarded with catalogues filled with all kinds of gift ideas. However, recently I have discovered an online campaign against Australian retail-giants over the use of a certain logo. Or should I say brand, on everyday family items such as bed sheets, perfumes, car seat covers and pillows.
Yes, it’s the Playboy logo.
That little rabbit is a renowned logo worldwide, almost unavoidable. It’s a brand that was spawned by the equally notorious Hugh Hefner and is synonymous with decadence, sex and misogyny. So while Heff, like any other business owner, is allowed to expand his iconic empire, what does the influx of Playboy items in mainstream retail represent?
Australian shoppers have been outraged because Playboy brand bed covers are now sold next to Hello Kitty covers. And while the Playboy covers are girly and pink and innocent looking to the eyes of youngsters, are they appropriate for young consumers?
A whopping, $800 million of Playboy’s earnings come from beyond the magazine and TV channel. They come from consumers of Playboy merchandise, whose consumers are mainly female. What could possibly compel a young girl/woman to buy something branded by one of the most renowned pornographers in our history?
According to feminist and campaigner Melinda Liszewski, “kids wouldn’t know it’s porn, but I think that’s even more sinister because they’re attracted to it and they think it’s cute, and then they have this brand familiarity to it as they get older.” Maybe by being introduced to Playboy merchandise from a young age, consumers might be compelled to explore the full extent of Playboy. “Please don’t stock Playboy merchandise that supports a multimillion dollar pornography industry that is tearing apart lives and families,” wrote one user on the Facebook page of a major retailer.
So are we prudes, or are we right to want something to be harsh on the infiltration of pornography in our pencil cases, pillows and perfumes?
Playboy is no longer the outlet of suburban 1950s sexual tension; it no longer represents rebellion, as it once did. Once it contained and pieces by Jack Kerouac and even interviews with Martin Luther King, but now the magazine is on the decline and has been for a long time. While it was once revolutionary to bring sex into the mainstream in a period of conservatism, today it competes with the Internet and competitors in regards to gaining an audience for pornography. There is less literature, but there are raunchier images.
I would not be caught dead in anything Playboy adorned. Why? Playboy goodies are tacky, cheap and I instinctively associate any female consuming Playboy products as ditzy and vacuous with silicone breasts. Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps Playboy, or the embracing of Playboy by females in mainstream culture, promotes a type of empowerment or reclaiming of sexuality?
Whatever the case may be, Playboy and its contemporaries have culpable effects on children, men and women. Some kids are first introduced to sex via pornography and those initial images can remain etched in a child’s psyche. It’s not unusual for children to try and copy those traumatising first-impressions of sex. With regular exposure, viewers become desensitized to the images no matter how disturbing or violent they may be.
Although it may start with the innocent little bunny, what the bunny represents often gives young boys and girls their first impressions of sex, or the way they should treat or be treated by their partners. Girls might idealise the bodies of bunnies or pin-ups and strive for the photo-shopped ideal. Or even think that exposure and promiscuity are the means to attract a man.
If that’s not convincing you to boycott Playboy merchandise, imagine yourself being hit on by Heff, since you are wearing his company’s perfume.
Image via DealsDirect