Hugh Hefner has finally passed away. In a strange way, it seems as if he’s been dead for years. His mansion, from the reports of past bunnies, had largely gone to seed, with the kind of mildew that seems to fit a life like his.
Once in an interview Hef said he had just a tiny bit of puritanical blood in him, which I take to mean the smallest smidgeon of guilt. He said if he could put it all into his pinkie, he’d have it cut off. One forgets, perhaps, that his Playboy empire came with a philosophy. If you’re curious, you can check out YouTube for his interview with William F. Buckley. It was the ’60s, and those were heady times. With feminism on the rise, Hefner struck. If women don’t need men, then boys never need to grow up. They can play all they like with no consequences.
Indeed, asked about his legacy, Hugh was proudest of the fact that he made premarital sex okay, along with shacking up, which has ever since been called “living together.” His victory was complete, as young Christians think nothing of it. But then they think nothing of sex, either. Upon putting all of life’s meaning into the pursuit of pleasure, we now have a generation that knows neither meaning nor pleasure. Emphasizing the joy of living together, Hefner drove us apart. How many fathers now actually “live together” with their children, or their children’s moms?
In some ways, Hefner’s legacy can be seen in the Rabbit novels of John Updike, the smooth and despairing author who wrote beautiful sentences but had nothing to say. Some may say Hef struck one of the best Faustian bargains ever made. So many sell their souls for so much less. But even then, his life spiraled down into the unappealing law of diminishing returns.
Well, now he is gone. At what price might you sell your soul? Even with the best of bargains, it wasn’t worth it. All that’s left is the sorrow, sadness, and division he has left behind. His life’s work is worth no more than his ashes. A life lived wholly for pleasure finds no joy, and even the pleasure fades.
This is no time for gloating, for dancing upon graves. Our Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Perhaps instead we should take the opportunity to weep for ourselves. The worst part of all this is that our culture still hasn’t woken up to the ill Hefner has wrought. Too many of us have fallen into his embrace as we lie in the bed he made for us. And we are running out of pills to handle the diseases, social and physical, which are his legacy.