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WH Smith sells Playboy to kids.

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  • Arquinsiel
    replied
    And Dita Von Teese somehow becoming a global fashion icon (again, amongst the same people who wouldn't want anything to do with Marilyn Manson).
    Hey, us Goths like her too. And we can say we did it first, which pisses certain types of people off no end.

    In short, the problem here is that everyone wants to find someone to blame for their own shortcomings. Parents will complain about their children being exposed to sexualy-connotated imagery such as the bunny in question yet buying them the latest Britney Spears cd without thinking. The same thing happened with GTA, parents complained about such content being in the game that their child is playing all the while ignoring their responsability to monitor their child's activities and the fact that accessing that content requires using an illegal mod which violates the EULA. Interestingly, the game's generic content provokes no response. People do this for pretty much everything but this is a particularly charged subject. Either way, be it Britney or Playboy, in this ever more technologically orientated society, Kids need to learn about airbrushing sometime.

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  • Mikey_C
    replied
    Originally posted by Jules
    Of course, the Right blame the 60s and 70s permissive society, while the Left blame the Free Market. I think there may actually be some progress when both sides realise it's a perfect storm of the two combined - and that blaming each other has really allowed people to not take personal responsibility.
    That's a very insightful comment. Andrea Dworkin has written about how the radical sexual/sexist mores of the '60s fed directly into the porn industry. Neither the Left wittering on about 'freedom of expression' or the Right insisting on 'Christian morals' have quite got a handle on what's happening. Hence they are ignored.

    Yet another example of how the old political divisions have been left behind by the world.

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  • Jules
    replied
    It does indeed sum it up. Of course, the Right blame the 60s and 70s permissive society, while the Left blame the Free Market. I think there may actually be some progress when both sides realise it's a perfect storm of the two combined - and that blaming each other has really allowed people to not take personal responsibility.

    I think the parents have as much a role in this as WHSmith or the capitalist system. Maybe if they took them out doing something healthy like hill-climbing, rather than giving them a fiver and sending them shopping. A bit facetious, but you get the point - if only the parents weren't so locked into the consumer culture themselves.

    Free market economics will just go where it's allowed - it's like hackers, looking for cracks and vulnerabilities. When they find them, you close them. I think you could certainly extend the existing law covering under 18s and tobacco and alcohol promotion to include 'Adult' brands and sexual content. Not quite sure how that would work with thongs. I think that really is one for the parents to take a good look at themselves over.

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  • Mikey_C
    replied
    Originally posted by Jules
    I would agree with the original point that I think it is slightly disturbing to be selling Playboy logo material to kids. But that might be just us being old fashioned enough to link the sign and what it signifies together (to remember my semiotics) rather than magpies consuming only the surface?
    Interesting point: I remember Beckham's Crass shirt and reflecting at the time how the fashion industry sucks the meaning out of everything it touches (same with the Communist symbols). The Playboy thing does however link in with wider concerns about the sexualisation of children, particularly girls. Children's cosmetics are another case in point.

    The other day we visited our local 'mall' to be greeted with the spectacle of a whole row of scantily clad little girls carrying out the type of dance routine that Mary Whitehouse would have moaned about had it been on telly in the '80s. Admiring mothers crowded around, apparently not noticing the numbers of dodgy looking middle-aged men leering down from the mezzantine. It was one of those experiences that gave me the surreal feeling that I am living in a completely alien culture. :? :(

    PS - Just found this - sums things up nicely!

    The problem lies in how far the debate can be taken whilst artfully side-stepping the issue of capitalism; needless to say, the newspaper coverage ignored the elephant in the room by hypocritically expecting WH Smiths to display moral standards, whilst championing free market ideals and the rampant abandoning of anything resembling a moral that entails. The mainstream nature of porn, and the associated way that children’s product are becoming increasingly sexualised can both be laid at the door of a system where profit is king; think thongs and lacy bra tops for five year olds, drastically proportioned Barbie toys and pre-teen magazines with advice on how to look sexy. I was thinking of standing outside Smiths with a banner along the lines of “Stop Making Porn Cool�, perhaps I should just get right to the root of the problem and go with “Stop Free Market Economics� instead.
    http://www.volsunga.co.uk/?p=109

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  • Jules
    replied
    The irony is, of course, that W H Smith have long since stopped stocking Playboy, being a 'family friendly' store. 'New Worlds' went the same way too. There is currently some debate about whether they should stock the likes of Nuts, Zoo, Esquire, etc.

    Rather like the other debate running here on the .xxx domain name, there is the question of balancing the negative points (the undoubted exploitation of women, the affect on young males sexuality) against the censorious urge to pretend that sex (except that strictly neccesary for procreation) doesn't exist.

    I will admit that I think my personal objection is just the sheer crassness of most of these magazines - I'm not offended by GQ or Arena, which almost certainly means it's just class prejudice. I know some people are offended by the whole lot of them, and I have more admiration for that position than my own.

    I think the Playboy merchandise thing comes out of Hefner's daughter taking over the business and realising that (a) magazine sales were in decline and (b) they were sat on a hugely recognisable brand (Not sure that I'm correct on this but I don't think the magazine uses the logo on the cover any more. It's feasible that they may even have flogged the logo off).

    I will confess that I'm probably part of the problem, in that a few years ago I'd quite happily wear vintage Playboy logo ties, and my engagement ring was an old cheap Playboy logo ring (the kind that Argos used to sell in the 80s). Of course at this point it wasn't a clothing brand, etc, etc, but a slightly ironic retro affection (ironic in that I've never bought the magazine and think Hef is a sad figure of a man - but on the other hand, it had that association in the 60s with intelligent yet louche jazz loving would-be hipsters - and I do love all those 60s spy and caper films that Austin Powers sent up).

    Where was I going? I think it's like seeing a lot of other 'retro' trends go mainstream - like when David Beckham wore a 'Crass' T-shirt or when Top Shop sell Iron Maiden and Motorhead T-shirts to trendies who wouldn't be seen dead at a Motorhead gig. And Dita Von Teese somehow becoming a global fashion icon (again, amongst the same people who wouldn't want anything to do with Marilyn Manson). It just becomes completely meaningless.

    All art aspires to the Condition of Muzack indeed.

    I would agree with the original point that I think it is slightly disturbing to be selling Playboy logo material to kids. But that might be just us being old fashioned enough to link the sign and what it signifies together (to remember my semiotics) rather than magpies consuming only the surface?

    Leave a comment:


  • mordenkainen
    replied
    Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
    the magazine is basically just porn with TV listings and some footie photos. I said as much to him once, and he fed me some bollocks about how women's magazines also have pictures of women's bodies in... which is true, of course, but an entirely different argument, as far as I can see.
    I'm not sure it's that different. My main issue with porn is not the things it shows or how much of them it actually shows. It's rather the way it shows them. I have basically the same issues with pretty much all the media treatment of naked people - not just women, though obviously mainly women.

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  • DeeCrowSeer
    replied
    I was checking out a friend's new flat the other day, and we were sat in the garden under his washing line. I noticed that he and his girlfriend had matching 'Playboy' underwear, which struck me as very peculiar. Whether either of them buy the magazine or not, they seem to have bought in to the "brand", and presumably the notion that it's just harmless sex-fun. I also know they've had designer spectacle frames for years, and I never saw the logic in that either, partly because the bunny logo was too small to even be worth the extra money, and partly because it reinforced both the myth about masturbation making you blind, and the stereotype of men with glasses being pathetic shut-ins. :)

    Actually, the friend mentioned above also buys Nuts magazine for the "articles on comedy". I actually believe him, but that doesn't excuse the fact that the magazine is basically just porn with TV listings and some footie photos. I said as much to him once, and he fed me some bollocks about how women's magazines also have pictures of women's bodies in... which is true, of course, but an entirely different argument, as far as I can see.

    But that bloody bunny really is everywhere these days... and you're right, it's the "lifestyle" that people want to buy into. Everyone seems to want to be a character in Hollyoaks... which, just for the record, is my personal vision of Hell.

    Stuck in the middle of a Dworkin book, as I am, there's a lot of stuff buzzing around my head about the "banality" of the way sex is addressed. Even if you don't accept her contention that sex is fundamentally unfair and degrading for women, the constant barrage of imagery and "sex tips" and so forth has turned sexual intercourse into the grown-up equivalent of Scalextric... everyone wants it, and once they've got it, they're too afraid to admit that it might not be what they needed. There is no real discussion of the pros and cons of such activity (beyond warnings regarding contraception), just lots of people going "Phwoooaaarrrr!" over and over and over and over again.

    Sorry, I'm feeling a bit: :x

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  • David Mosley
    replied
    Originally posted by Mikey_C
    Actually, I wouldn't be sure that Playboy itself is that innocuous these days, but its many a year since I picked one up. I always try to think "How would I feel if that was my sister?" That's a good moral compass.
    Might depend on whether your name is Jerry, of course.

    But on the whole I think you're probably right. There's a whole sliding scale that can potentially suck girls into the vortex of pornography, beginning with the 'tits out for the boys' of Page 3 through to so-called 'role models' like Jordan and Jodie Marsh, where stripping down to their skimpies (or even less) is seen as a career move. Magazines like Playboy with their 'tasteful' airbrushed nudity can lead to a mindset of 'it's only skin' and once you've accepted that then it's only - at the risk of sounding holier-than-thou - a few short steps from that to 'it's only sex' at the seamier end of the industry. (Mind you, I'd like to hear some female POVs on this as well rather just us blokes shaking our heads and saying how terrible it all is.)

    Unfortunately we live in a society where Page 3, lads mags, and Jordan are considered socially 'acceptable', which as you pointed out at the start has led to the use of the 'bunny logo' as a children's brand. It's no wonder then that there are people out there who hate our society so much they consider suicide bombers a suitable response. :(

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  • Mikey_C
    replied
    Originally posted by demos99
    The symbol/logo itself is quite innocous on its own, it's the brand behind the logo and what that brand represents, suggests and connotates that's the problem. Based on my own rather limited experience with Playboy in my youth it does seem to be very much at the forefront of the 'nice', airbrushed, 'fantasy' end of the market.
    Playboy may be the 'glamorous' face of porn, but selling this image to young girls is surely softening them up for exploitation by the more sordid side of the 'sex industry'. You don't have to stray far on the internet to find hundreds of 'teen' sites, many specialising in various forms of degradation and humiliation. Somehow, these girls are being persuaded that this is a way to fame and stardom.

    Actually, I wouldn't be sure that Playboy itself is that innocuous these days, but its many a year since I picked one up. I always try to think "How would I feel if that was my sister?" That's a good moral compass.

    And as for 'lad mags' - don't start me off! :x I find some of them much worse than the top shelf material I remember from my youth. There's a nasty 'freak show' element to some of them I find quite offensive.

    One thing they share with Playboy is their focus on 'lifestyle'. It's all about with constructing an obnoxious image of 'maleness' based on conspicuous consumption, sexism, and a generally superficial and callous attitude to life - far more insidious and damaging to young guys than just ing over airbrushed boobies in my humble opinion.

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  • Pietro_Mercurios
    replied
    There was a story about the Office of Fair Trading forcing through something about WH Smiths, Menzies and some three other major distributors in the UK, having an illegal monopoly over magazine and periodical distribution, in the UK, on BBC Radio4, a month, or two, back, but I'm too tired and emotional, to find any more about it.

    Interesting, though. Independent newsagents are the place to go! Better consider putting centre spreads, on BollyWood films, featuring post modernist references to the ned end of Empire, as a nod to the future distributors and drop the giant ama mammaries!



    I've been half considering the possibility of distributing an a5 comic strip and articles pamphlet, through the Dutch equivalent of Big Issue sellers.

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  • Pietro_Mercurios
    replied
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comme...426510,00.html

    Richard Ingrams
    Sunday February 27, 2005
    The Observer


    ...

    Alas WH Smith

    The Office of Fair Trading - what used to be called the Monopolies Commission - has been investigating the system whereby newspapers and magazines are distributed, and reports last week suggest that they have uncovered a number of practices in the trade which they consider anticompetitive.

    There is nothing, however, to suggest that the OFT will do anything seriously to challenge the commanding monopoly position of the firm of WH Smith, both as a wholesaler and retailer of reading matter.

    Many small magazines, including my own, the Oldie, are currently experiencing difficulties as a result of Smiths' deciding to cut back on the number of titles they put on their shelves.

    The reason is partly that Smiths has discovered that it can make more money in the short term by selling things such as sweets and soft drinks. Yet the firm continues to enjoy a virtual monopoly of all the railway station book stalls, vital selling places for magazines hoping to attract the casual reader who may become a regular one.

    The good news is that despite the power of its monopoly, the once proud firm of WH Smith is in decline and may be heading for an eventual takeover.

    Another media monopoly, the bookshop chain of Waterstone's, is also finding it harder and harder to make profits. Again, because of the monopoly position it enjoys, Waterstone's can put the screw on publishers, demanding, and in many cases getting, bigger and bigger discounts. In such a cut-throat world, the little publisher doesn't stand much of a chance. But that is, alas, another high street story that the Office of Fair Trading is likely to overlook.

    ...
    decide to leave the bit about Waterstones in.

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  • David Mosley
    replied
    Welcome to Free Market Economics. :flip:

    The symbol/logo itself is quite innocous on its own, it's the brand behind the logo and what that brand represents, suggests and connotates that's the problem. Based on my own rather limited experience with Playboy in my youth it does seem to be very much at the forefront of the 'nice', airbrushed, 'fantasy' end of the market, but in the UK at least has probably been usurped in the High St. by the Lads Mag brigade of Loaded, FHM, Maxim, Ice, Nuts, Bizarre, Zoo, Front etc. which are 'almost' as explicit as Playboy (iirc) but unlike it don't carry a mandatory age restriction.

    It's the sort of thing someone else (Theocrat?) was talking about here with regards to communist emblems turning up on t-shirts and the like.

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  • Mikey_C
    started a topic WH Smith sells Playboy to kids.

    WH Smith sells Playboy to kids.

    As part of my ongoing campaign against one of the drabbest features of the drab British High Street:

    WHSmith has just jumped on the Playboy bandwagon. The difference is that, unlike other retailers, it is clearly marketing its products to children, not adults. Its Playboy stationery range which, in my local branch in Wood Green, London, shares a stand with Bratz and Funky Friends, includes pink and glittery pencil cases, pink ring-binders, mini pads, diaries, zip files, gel pens and eraser sets. I know a five-year-old who'd just love the set of cute bunny rubbers in a row. Pencil cases are largely used by schoolchildren. Pink and glittery is largely favoured by girls from 0-16 years. By placing the bunny logo on school equipment, underage children are seduced into buying into the pornographic brand - an adult, top-shelf brand that sells women as sexual commodities.

    ...But for WHSmith it's a style choice. "We believe it is a fashion range," says Evans. "There's no inappropriate imagery. It's just the bunny. It's a bit of fun, popular and fashionable."
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1549124,00.html

    I've noticed these insidious 'bunnies' everywhere - an indispensible part of 'chav' culture. Under the guise of 'cool', it seems that many of the gains made by women in the '60s and '70s are being rolled back. All those 'post-feminist' professors paid for by the porn industry have a lot to answer for. :x
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