‘The Playboy Club’ is Bad for Television

Kurt ManwaringBy Kurt Manwaring.

The Playboy Club is bad for television.

NBC’s new show which is scheduled to air this fall has sparked its fair share of controversy. The Parents Television Council is actively advocating against it and KSL, an NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, has refused to air the program.

Those responsible for the show fail to see any problems. Chad Hodge, the executive producer of the Playboy Club, states, “[The Playboy Club] is mild compared to anything else on television.”

In that respect, Hodge may be right. The media is becoming more and more brazen in what types of inappropriate material it chooses to produce. The Playboy Club could very likely turn out to be less explicit than other programs, but Hodge’s assertion misses the point.

The issue at hand isn’t merely one of content, but also context. The Playboy brand is universally known for promoting pornography, and pornography is in direct conflict with the unique KSL brand.

In other words, what the Playboy Club stands for is just as important is what is portrayed in the episodes.

One of those who defends the program—and thereby defends pornography—is  Playboy Club actress, Naturi Naughton. Naughton emphasizes, “[The show is] empowering because these girls are smart, they’re going to school, they’re buying property.” In other words, it’s okay to portray women as objects of sexual desire as long as they are portrayed as being intelligent at the same time.

There may be episodes in the show which extol virtues such as education and self-reliance, but it is concerning to see a woman’s ability to exploit her sexuality equated in any fashion with empowerment.

I subscribe to a morality which views pornography as more conducive to captivating slavery than liberating empowerment. By this, I don’t mean to say that others do not have the right to believe otherwise—or even to act on their beliefs. NBC has every right market the Playboy Club, just as viewers have every right to watch it.

pornography tvAt the same time, I also have the right to believe as I do and advocate against a brand which I believe is disrespectful to women and harmful to society.

NBC is misguided in supposing that opposition to the program is based solely on the perception that the Playboy Club is worse than other television shows. Viewers aren’t as concerned with the nuance between what is bad and what is really bad as much as they are concerned with matters of common decency and the harmful effects of pornography.

Pornography was viewed as immoral in the 1950s when Playboy was first introduced. In fact, NBC advertises the Playboy Club as a “provocative new series [which] captures a time and place that challenged the social mores.” Yet there are those today—myself among them—who believe that pornography is still a vice which should be shunned rather than accepted.

While the Playboy Club may or may not be mild compared to other provocative programs, it nonetheless carries with it the stigma of the Playboy brand and all that it stands for.

The Playboy Club is bad for television not merely because it contains immoral content, but because it stands for pornography. And while it is becoming increasingly unpopular to do so, the nation is in need of more voices who can declare that pornography is immoral, harmful to family stability, and degrading to women.

Kurt Manwaring is a graduate student in public administration at the University of Utah and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Kurt is the owner of Manwaring Research & Consulting and resides in Taylorsville, Utah.