Category Archives: Literature

How has Playboy infiltrated children’s entertainment?

Playboy is arguably one the best-known brands of the sex industry worldwide. In sixty years, its founder and CEO, Hugh Hefner, has managed to transform a magazine with centerfolds of naked models into a global success, its reach extending far beyond the pages of Playboy Magazine. It has infiltrated political movements (the sexual revolution), curbed legislation (United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, 529 U.S. 803), lined the racks of clothing stores (for children, too), and can be found in virtually every entertainment medium, including video games (Playboy: The Mansion), DVDs (Playboy Playmates), reality shows (The Girls Next Door), and theatrically-released Hollywood films (The House Bunny). The brand, and its iconic logo – a silhouette of a rabbit wearing a bow tie – are everywhere.

It is reasonable to assert that when most adults see the Playboy logo, whether it’s on jewelry, carved into a truck’s mud flap, inscribed on a shot glass, or on a teenager’s sweatpants, they accept it. Such is the power of ubiquity: Playboy has emerged as a popular symbol that adults and children alike can adorn without question.

In 2011, Playboy managed to reach children in a whole new way: by targeting the audience of a mainstream Hollywood children’s film called Hop.

Hop, a feature-length animated movie, features as its main characters several animated rabbits. In the film, the Easter Bunny wants his teenage son, EB, to succeed him as the next Easter Bunny. EB, however, would rather pursue his dreams, and so he runs off to Hollywood to become a star.

When E.B. arrives, the first place he visits is the Playboy Mansion, hoping for a place to stay. Knowing that the “Playboy mansion has been home to many sexy bunnies,” he speaks with Hefner himself (providing his actual voice), and insists that he is “incredibly sexy.” Once Hefner takes a look at EB (through a camera!), EB is rejected, ostensibly because he does not fit the Playboy mold of “sexy bunny.” Disappointed, EB leaves the mansion.

The dialogue of the scene is as follows:

Voice at Playboy Mansion: [through an intercom] Listen, this is the Playboy Mansion, not a hotel.

E.B.: [looking into a map] I know, but it says ‘Since 1971 the Playboy Mansion has been home to many sexy bunnies.’

Voice at Playboy Mansion: I can’t even see you. Step closer.

E.B.: I’m just saying, I am a bunny and am incredibly sexy.

Voice at Playboy Mansion: I don’t have time for this.

E.B.: Hello? Hello? Ugh, this must be the rags part of my rags-to-riches story.

The lasting impression of the scene is that the Playboy Mansion is exclusive and consequently desirable. Were EB just a bit sexier, perhaps he’d be able to join all of the sexy bunnies in the Mansion. In another version of the story, perhaps EB would learn how Playboy and Hefner himself have been long documented as having supported the sex trafficking of women and children, have depicted children sexually in their magazines, have literally promoted the “hate raping” of conservative women (“So Right, It’s Wrong” campaign), and have contributed to the average early death of 36 for all Playboy Playmates.

Hop was a large box office success, earning more than $180 million at the global box office and spawning licensed video games, books, candy, clothing, stuffed animals, and exclusive Burger King kids meal toys. It wasn’t received well by critics (it has a 25% rating on the film review aggregate site, Rotten Tomatoes), but the failures of the movie were attributed to bad but “harmless” writing. Alas, such is the power of ubiquity.

Hop is, of course, just one example of many ways in which Hefner has tried to reach children as a target demographic with Playboy. There have been other attempts, and there will be more. After all, this is the same man who is quoted as saying, “I don’t care if a baby holds up a Playboy bunny rattle.” Are we surprised? Are we even capable of recognizing it when we see it?

The history of Playboy, Playboy Magazine, Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner, the Playmates, and their impact on our world will continue to be explored in scope throughout Pornography FAQ.


Is child pornography legal in Japan?

As of June 2014, a law prohibiting the possession of child pornography passed in Japan.* Once this law was implemented a month later, a one-year moratorium was placed on the penalties for possession, so as to encourage men to dispose of their child pornography collection over time. As it stands today, the penalty for possessing child pornography is up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of one million yen, or $9.800.

Around this same time, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government also made illegal the selling of manga depicting and sexualizing the rape of children, such as “Little Sisters Paradise! 2,” directly to children. Adults, however, were well within their rights to pick up a copy. In fact, to this day it is still legal to possess and distribute animated and illustrated depictions of children being raped and in other exploitative sexual interactions.

Under Japan’s “Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Protection of Children,” only people who perpetrate against children directly are recognized as having violated the rights of children. As there are no “real” children in manga and in anime, artists, free speech advocates, and publishers have argued that there is no harm. By invoking the Japanese government’s strict censorship before World War II, these groups of people (namely, male) have successfully managed to morph the issue of sexualizing children into a fight against the government’s ideological repression of sexuality. For these anti-censorship crusaders, the matter of harm that their “free speech” does to children (sexualizing children, portraying children as sex-starved “Lolita’s,” making entertainment of child sexual abuse, suggesting that children understand and desire sex on the same cognitive and emotional level as adults) does not seem to matter.

These are the same advocates fighting for the right to code and  distribute the popular “RapeLay” – or “rape play” – a game in which the protagonist must grope, stalk, confine, and rape a mother and her two daughters to win the game.

In more recent times, there have been increased demands within Japan to more strictly prohibit the sexualizing of children via manga, anime, and so on. As of yet, additional police efforts on further legislation have been blocked by stakeholders in the publishing industry.

* In 1999, Japan outlawed the production, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute child pornography. Possession without intention to distribution remained legal in all prefectures (except for Kyoto and Nara, which have both explicitly banned child pornography possession on the grounds that it is obviously harmful).


What are the most recurring subjects in pornographic literature?

Various studies and evaluations of pornographic literature illuminate several recurring patterns: rape, sexual abuse, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, inter-familial rape (incest), and pedophilia.

In a longitudinal study conducted by Don Smith from 1968 to 1974, Smith did a content analysis on 428 pornographic books available in the United States. Over the course of the study, he found that 20% of all sex scenes were rape, of which 97% resulted in the female achieving orgasm and 75% in multiple orgasm. 6% of all rapes were perpetrated against family. With each passing year, the number of rapes per book increased.

In another longitudinal study, Neil Malamuth and Barry Spinner conducted a content analysis on sexual violence in both Playboy and Penthouse from June 1973 to December 1977. They found that 10% of all cartoons were sexually violent, and Penthouse was twice as likely to depict sexual violence as Playboy.

Between 1987 and 1988, Park Elliott Dietz and Alan Sears did an extensive content analysis on the contents of pornographic books, magazines, and videotape covers, as well as the stores in which they were sold. 92% of the stores sold books about sexual abuse perpetrated against children. 13% of all covers depicted explicit acts of sexual violence, and upwards of 15% depicted various paraphilias, including corpses, urine, diapers, bestiality, and childlike clothing.

In a 1997 study conducted on online pornographic literature, Denna Harmon and Scot B. Boeringer found that among 196 randomly selected stories, rape occurred in 40.8% of the stories. 4.6% of all rapes were perpetrated against family. 19.4% of the stories contained scenes of pedophilia. 11.7% of all stories contained acts of torture.

In 2015, Mark Allen Thornton utilized his knowledge of Python coding to conduct data analysis on 293,535 erotic stories available online. In searching for themes, he built a network of tags to highlight co-occurring subjects. The cluster that is most closely connected with love, for instance, is sex, romance, brother sister incest, brother sister sex. For revenge, some common associations were cheating wife, slut wife, cuckold, and watching. One of the most prevalent themes across all stories was BDSM. The cluster most closely related to control are the terms dominance, master, submission, submissive, slut, gang bang, whore, and so on.

One recent erotic series has had a significant impact in normalizing the themes found commonly in pornographic literature (namely sexual exploitation and sexual abuse). The Fifty Shades trilogy, having sold more than 40 million copies globally, has inspired video pornography, official BDSM clubs at Harvard University, a theatrical film series, and countless other writings, both published and online (where the books originated).

As with videos, pornographic literature has steadily increased its depictions of rape, sexual violence, sexual abuse, interfamilial rape, and so on, particularly with the proliferation of writers sharing their own stories online. In all of its forms, pornography has shown no signs of de-centering its ideology from exploiting women, and children, for the sexual gratification of men. To liken the consumption of Fifty Shades series to the consumption of softcore pornography by male consumers, the inevitable story that follows is excitement, desensitization, tolerance, and then an intensified desire to find something more edgy or shocking. Beyond Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse, and other pornographic magazines, pornographic literature has never really been mainstream. If we can rely on the growth of pornography into a vast global $100 billion market, then Fifty Shades was really just the beginning of making it so.