Hugh Hefner is dead. The damage he did lives on. The details on that would be book-length.
The Playboy founder was 91when he died. Possibly most people thought he was dead already – Playboy hasn’t been a cultural force for decades.
His magazine pretty much ignored God. I wonder about the discussion Hefner is having now with his Maker about his behaviour here on earth. A little late for repentance.
Hefner was one of the people who hyper-sexualized our culture. I am sure there are those who will eulogize him as a champion of the sexual revolution and a proponent of civil rights. Others will see him as the devil incarnate, which may be closer to reality. After all, his “revolution” was to treat women as sex objects. That made him millions of dollars.
From what I knew of him through the media, Hefner always struck me as a sad person. He moved from one relationship to another, never seeming to be able to maintain one for any period of time. The women were beautiful, but apparently disposable, with no real bonding. I would wonder if he understood they were human and not just sex toys.
He sold a fantasy to the American male, one willingly bought. I would have liked to see Kurt Andersen deal with that topic in his latest book, Fantasyland, but that’s an opportunity he missed.
T-Bone Burnett though did look at Hugh Hefner and the concept of American fantasy on his 1983 album Proof Through The Night, which remains one of my all-time favourite records. The song “Hefner and Disney” is a look at two American icons and the dreams they sold. The decision to switch the names of the characters in the song with the real-life person was, to me, brilliant. The song was the first time I looked critically at the work of Walt Disney – until that point I’d always thought his products rather benign. I could always see the damage Hefner was doing. So sad that he never understood that he was a dupe of the Wicked King.
You can hear the song on YouTube (click on the picture above) or just read the lyrics.
Hefner and Disney T-Bone Burnett
Somewhere between Never Neverland and Wonderland
In a land called Never Wonderland
There lived a beautiful wealthy young divorcee
With a checkered past and a bad memory
Who should probably remain nameless
And men travelled from far and wide and try to win her hand
And she took in stragglers from all over the known world
Her newest guests were (as her mother called them)
“The latest Russians to defect”
One’s name was Hefner
The other’s name was Disney
Disney smoked a pipe and was very philosophical
He was constantly surrounded by go-go girls
And he used to take pictures of them without any clothes on
And sell them to the neighborhood children
Hefner on the other hand was not so introspective
He loved a good story just like anybody else
In fact he loved the myths of Never Wonderland so much
That he made elaborate moulded plastic sculptures
Of the characters in the myths
Then … he would put them out in the garden
Until …. he had built a whole nother land in Never Wonderland
Which he called Hefnerland
And the neighborhood children loved them
They had lots of fun playing in Hefnerland
And looking at all Disney’s go-go pictures
Because they didn’t know any better
And they didn’t know any worse
But the beautiful young wealthy divorcee thought
That they were only after her money
Sometimes she even wished they would go back to Russia
(But between you and me they were really dupes of the Wicked King
Who wanted to rob the children of their dreams)