A teenage boy’s bedroom, in the not-too-distant future …
“Son, have a seat. Your mother and I would like to talk to you about something.”
Both parents shoot stern glances at their son, who reluctantly takes a seat on the bed. His parents sit in chairs to the left and right of him.
“Now, your mother was doing some cleaning this afternoon and she found these under your bed. Care to explain?”
The mother holds up a stack of Playboy magazines.
“Oh dad, come on …”
“Now son, we just want to have a talk about this.”
“A friend gave them to me. Playboy doesn’t have any nudity in it anymore. It just has PG-13 photos and articles about which colleges are the best party schools.”
“Exactly son,” the mother chimes in. “That’s why we are so concerned. You have a laptop here in your room. We have On Demand downstairs and you know your father never pays any attention to the bill. With all of that porn at your fingertips, why are you bothering reading a magazine that is now nothing more than a watered-down Maxim?”
“Cory Jones revamped the magazine to make it relevant to the 21st century. It’s not just about T&A anymore. It’s about quality content now. The days of trashy celebrity nudity and crude naked cartoons are over. This is a real periodical that is continuing the fine work started on Playboy‘s SFW website The Smoking Jacket.”
“Now son,” his father continues, “it was a long-running joke back in my day that people read Playboy for the articles. And sure, I’d glance at them from time to time after taking care of business. But then they still had writers like Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut. Real literature. Now, the number one video on their website is entitled ‘This Brutal Moose Fight Video Will Give You a Reason to Fear Moose Forever’ and they are writing articles about the best bottles of liquor you can get for less than 30 bucks.
“They used to be a trendsetter, in style and in class, promoting a fantasy lifestyle that we all dreamed of achieving. They were run by an old man in a smoking jacket who was the epitome of cool, telling us all that if we read the right literature and drank the right high-priced liquor, we too could have a fancy mansion with a grotto full of giggly 20-somethings with impossibly perfect racks. No son of mine will read this husk of a once edgy magazine, this Buzzfeed wannabe catering to weirdos who want to be seen reading a magazine their parents and grandparents secretly read, but want to do so safely without fear of getting punished since nothing about the magazine except the name is actually envelope-pushing or interesting.”
“Dad, come on. It’s -”
“No, you sit here and listen. It’s bad enough your generation cannibalizes The Karate Kid and Transformers and Ghostbusters, taking once-innovative and original film franchises and making them bland lowest-common-denominator drivel that some spineless middle-management movie exec greenlights instead of something new for fear of losing his job if he takes a real chance. I will not have you little punks continue to support this neutered, bland Playboy to keep the name alive while the dream died slowly and painfully so long ago. You will sit in this room watching hentai porn and gangbangs, like my generation dreamed of one day doing, and you will like it, mister!”
The son’s eyes well up with tears. He hugs his father.
“I’m sorry, dad. I’m so, so sorry.”
Later that night, the mother quietly burned the stack of Playboys outside. The family never spoke of this night again.
It was only years later, after a major breakthrough in therapy, that the boy – now a man – realized this was the moment that lead to his career as a bold, risk-taking movie executive … who was fired after his first multi-million dollar project, helmed by a brilliant upstart director with a unique vision, tanked both financially and critically.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.