But to bury him.
However, first let me take to task a couple of publications, who seem to be still engaging in an orgy of flagellating the dead. I read 3 major papers (NYTimes, WashPost, WSJ (that one is ending at the end of the year)), along with the magazines NewYorker, Atlantic and BitterSoutherner (don’t take that one from it’s title, it started off as a drink magazine), finishing with Reuters and Bloomberg. When I first heard Hefner had died, I went to the NYTimes (all the news that’s fit to print) to read a very good obit, and one opinion piece that detailed his life, times and contributions to publishing and society. To deny these is to deny a large portion of the 1960s-2000’s. I was satisfied with the work, even put a short comment on the opinion piece by Amber Batura saying that it was thoughtful, well written and well researched. If I had stopped reading the news through next week, I probably would have lowered my BP substantially. However, later in the day I read the first of what I would characterize as hitpieces and very nearly clickbait on the Washington Post. There were at least 5 more (at 5 I just logged out of WaPo for the week), all by women writers who were too young to see the changes that Playboy had helped cause in the 20th century. Then the NYTimes, after 2 days of playing nice, seemed to think it needed to catch up, and came up with some hitpieces of its own.
Hugh Hefner broke men out of the narrow confines of the 1950s breadwinners, changing them to people who listened to cool jazz, who had some sense of fashion, who could order a drink and who had a certain philosophy. People who liked sports cars, who wanted to do something other than 9-5, and who liked looking at pretty women. Even his detractors, and there were many, mostly owed their 15 minutes of fame to the target of their attacks, and not to themselves. Playboy was much more than a magazine with naked girls in it. There were plenty of those, and they all have faded into dust. The centerfold might be the first thing you looked at, but the articles were what left you engrossed. They left you with a certain worldview, not one with naked women draped all over the landscape, but one in which there were wider concerns (1st amendment, race relations, gay rights and availability of birth control, to name just a few).
If Hefner had a problem, it was that he was unable to shift 50 years later when the world did. Internet porn took the salacious part of Playboy out of the picture, and the world he promoted (individual rights, wider musical and fashion tastes, and the Playboy Philosophy) mostly came to pass. In the end, if he had become a bit of a caricature of his younger self, then it was only because of his success.
RIP, Hugh Hefner.