October 9, 2006

Who needs a blog, anyway?

After all, I can get stuff into print that's too boring and stupid to even bother with on the site. Well, maybe that's overstating a little, but a while ago, Playboy asked me to come up with a list (as a sidebar to an Arianna Huffington interview) of the top ten political blogs. Now keep in mind that Playboy readers have only the vaguest idea of what these Internets are, so while you may think Powerline and Daily Kos are so 2004, obvious and established was exactly what the editors wanted from me (as well as a mix of left and right). They probably would have been happy if I'd just pulled straight from the Technorati rankings, but I decided to mix it up a little bit, and you can see the results here.

I've enjoyed reading the responses from the "honored" bloggers. Captain's Quarters was the most gracious, Powerline was bitchy, and Glenn Greenwald calls Powerline's inclusion "horrible" (he must have missed the mandate to consider "influence," which, believe me, is the only reason PL or DK make the cut). TAPPED is also gracious, though Sam Rosenfeld wonders what "the proper progressive line on Playboy" is. American Scene makes a comment I actually had in an early draft of the list (about how they'd probably be horrified to be in such an evil magazine).

Andrew Sullivan calls kudos from Playboy "the highest honor a gay man could get." (I hope he knows Playboy has always been a gay-friendly magazine. In a new poll, 67% of Playboy readers (and 50% of its Republican readers) say they oppose a ban on gay marriage). The commenters at Hit & Run have a good laugh, but the big disappointment for me has been seeing the dramatically unamused comments at Pandagon, my personal favorite blog on the list and the one I rated as the most fun. Apparently, people who know very little about Playboy's feminist politics (72% of readers would vote for a woman president; 94% are pro-choice), or who are simply creeped out by Hef (who isn't?), refuse to accept a compliment from a magazine with pictures of naked ladies. For instance, I thought "almost frightening intellect" was just a hep way of saying, "really, really smart," but apparently it means I'm afraid of intelligent women.

It is, of course, amusing, to hear my personal opinions and turns of phrase explained in terms of an agenda set by Hugh Hefner or Playboy's "management." Of course, Playboy presents the piece with a headline that encourges people to confuse the contributions of a freelancer with the omniscient voice of the magazine, but I expect Pandagon readers to be a little more sophisticated. I'm debating whether to post a reply on the Pandagon comments, but I'm not sure I want to get sucked into that.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


I'd have replaced Powerline with the National Review's "Corner," where the conservative contributors disagree with each other a fair amount of time, leading to genuinely interesting discussions and debates. I haven't read Powerline in a while, but back when I did, it struck me as utterly impervious to dissenting viewpoints, even from those also on the right.

Yeah, Jonah Goldberg wants to know why The Corner didn't make the cut. It probably could have, but as Daniel Larison notes, "NRO has lots of readers, but it is effectively nothing but a glorified chatroom-cum-echo chamber for the NROniks to bat their tired preconceptions back and forth at each other," which is exactly what downgraded it a bit for me. Actually, Larison pretty well intuits my intent, though obviously he disagrees with me that Sullivan fits that criteria.

I'm sure there was overreacting from Playboy critics, but your citation of the magazine's "feminist politics" is at least as amusing. The point of Playboy, for half a century now, has been to establish an equation between women and commodities, and to encourage the class-conscious aquisition and consumption of both. That's not a particularly "feminist" objective, regardless of the results of reader surveys.

Playboy has, from the start, published political articles arguing in favor of an undeniably feminist agenda. One could argue that this doesn't outweigh the subtext of the photos and lifestyle articles you're referring to (though I notice that, say, Esquire never gets tarred the same way, although it has virtually the same photos/features without the political articles) but to say that one is "the point" of Playboy while the other is -- what, a fig leaf? -- is, in my opinion, unsupportable.

You forget the "nipple barrier," Daniel. (Though, arguably, that was broken last year with the nipslip of Keira Knightley in the pages of Esquire.) "Respectable" magazines will show you everything but the nipple on the upper body (coverage mechanisms include hand/arm, sheet, strangely configured T-shirt/bra, etc.) This is the magic line. There's the "nipple line" and the "serious journalism" line, which usefully divides "men's mags" into four quadrants. ("Laddie," "Respectable Men's," "Really, I Read It For The Articles," and "Porn.")

I take issue with your claim that PLAYBOY readers have only a vague idea of what the internets are. Just because some people have gone blind LOOKING at it, doesn't mean they're stupid!I'm here, aren't I?;)


Next you're going to tell me that photos of naked women is somehow not "the point" of Playboy?

Matt understood my meaning. In order to believe that what Playboy says about women is any worse than any other men's magazine, you have to believe in some magical effect of nudity (harder and harder to do as Playboy's pictures have become increasingly unsexy while every other publications' are getting hotter). AND you have to not read any of the articles. Playboy is the only men's magazine with a politics section, and that section, with it's left-libertarian views, is stridently feminist. Hell, even Playboy's sex and relationship advice is feminist, at least by my definition.

At a bare minimum (ha!), the Pandagonists who think it's "ironic" that "Playboy" would appreciate them would find it doubly so to know that the Playboy Foundation gives money to Planned Parenthood, Women Make Movies, and Lambda Legal Defense.

In order to believe that what Playboy says about women is any worse than any other men's magazine

Hwuh? Straw man much? Playboy purt near invented the so-called "men's magazine" (that is to say "a magazine meant to facillitate men's masturbation - with or without accompanying articles"), so any ranking relative to the others is kinda superfluous.

But OK, OK, I'll stop. I just realized I'm arguing the "I only read it for the articles" point with a guy who actually writes the articles.

Actually, and this is going to sound pathetic--the first time I ever bought a Playboy WAS for one of the articles (the Playboy Interview with the cast and crew of The West Wing). Not saying the pictures weren't a nice bonus, though.

Reading Playboy says something about a person. It says: "I paid money for these pictures of naked women."

Corrolary: "I have never heard of the internet."

Seems odd that Playboy would have any comment on blogs at all.

I'll back up Matt. I have paged through about three or four issues of Playboy in 15 years and have always been impressed by both the fiction and non-fiction. The pictures are honestly pretty easy to ignore, especially now that there is approximately infinity porn on the internet. The "art" seems almost... anachronistic?

So let's see, you essentially acknowledge that you half-assed this assignment, and now you're feeling superior to the people taking issue with your "rankings"? You deserve all the contempt you're getting, and more.

Hell, even Playboy's sex and relationship advice is feminist, at least by my definition.

I don't think you get to define what's feminist though, do you?

And it's pretty arrogant of you to even think that you can, seeing as you're a bloke and all.

Powerline: Do We Get Invited to the Mansion?

Let's see...

lame headline...check
cheap shot at unnamed political enemy...check
factual errors...check
admission that writer would rather sleep alone than play with beautiful naked women...check
actually refers to someone as "Captain Ed"...check

Congratulations, the perfect Powerline entry has been achieved. You can pull the plug now.

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