"It is a guys' world, definitely," says one of two female photographers competing on Playboy Shootout, a new reality show from the magazine. "I love that kind of challenge." But a woman's presence doesn't change the formula whatsoever.
The formula is basic: Ten photographers and ten models are competing, in tandem, to both shoot for and pose for the magazine (respectively). It's not a bad idea for a brand extension, but it's hard to ignore the heavy smell of anachronism. (Maybe it wafted in with Hef's smoking jacket.) And nothing about the show, which airs on the Playboy Channel, indicates that Playboy is actually interested in using it to freshen itself into relevancy.
The preview shows that the models are the same cartoons of the recent Playboy oeuvre: all bouffant, bleached-out banality, their bodies sculpted and augmented to be nearly identical. As feminine ideals go, this one still has plenty of customers. But if there's anything that the primary force of Playboy's dissolution — the Internet — has taught us, men and women get off on all sorts of things. Including women (and some men) who look like these do, or these do. Or whose faces have expressions beyond the standard sexyface. Or whose bodies go for something other than the same old hetero standards.
You could almost pity the mass-market title, consigned to such limitations, such repetition — if its critical mass didn't still give it some influence to make some people think there's more than one way to be sexy. But alas. And if you need more indication that Playboy is uninterested in changing things up, just ask one of the judges on the show, a veteran photographer for the magazine:
"Some came in and said, 'I want to do something completely different,'" Wayda said. "Well, that's great, so go open up your own magazine."
Great attitude. And guess which magazine's economic fortunes have suffered for it?
Earlier: How Girls Have Ruined Playboy