“To make a documentary about Hugh Hefner–indisputably the world’s most famous pornographer and unrepentant chauvinist–and omit his enormously influential role in negatively shaping ideas about female sexuality is sophistry. Berman’s documentary is an attempt to “get beyond the bunny,” but there is no getting beyond the bunny because the bunny made the man.
Hefner’s success was built on the exploitation of women’s nude bodies for the pleasure of men. Every aspect of Playboy, Inc. was consciously designed as “Entertainment for Men.” Hefner was one of the first capitalists to commodify women’s sexuality for mass consumption (by men). The profits from selling pornography made him a millionaire.”
“Hefner currently stars in the reality TV show The Girls Next Door, but this is another chapter of Hefner’s life completely left out of Berman’s documentary. The reality show is set in the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles. It’s the successor to Penthouse After Dark, with the jiggling, female flesh of Hefner’s numerous live-in girlfriends on display. In each episode, we see the pajama-wearing, Viagra-fueled geriatric rutting of the 84-year-old Hefner. It is vomitous.
Hefner picks his girlfriends by looking at photos, pointing to them and shouting out to assistants, “Her, I want her!” His girlfriends are poorly paid prostitutes. Kendra Wilkinson, a former lover, reported that she was paid $1,000 a week, a pittance for a professional pimp like Hefner whose personal wealth is estimated to be over $50 million. Kendra admitted, “I hate putting my hand out, but we couldn’t have jobs other than getting appearance fees…Hef was kind of like my best friend but a Sugar Daddy at the same time.”