*When Hugh Hefner’s name is mentioned the very first thing that comes to mind for most people is Playboy (the magazine and the bunnies). That white bunny logo placed against an all black background has provoked the social consciousness of America since the 1950s.
To some, Hugh Hefner has made this country a better place by dragging our sexual consciousness in to the future kicking and screaming, yet to others he is little more than a charlatan.
To some he’s thought of as the prehistoric forerunner to the P. Diddy school of overindulgence and bling. He’s been accused of being a pornographer, the king of all chauvinist pigs and even the reason for the marginalization of morality in this country.
But, like most people, there are other sides of the story. Playboy and the player lifestyle that Hugh Hefner was supposedly living were simply for show. The man was far, far deeper than that.
Sure, he loved and still loves the ladies (lots and lots of ’em, we might add, thanks to Viagra), but he doesn’t get half the credit he deserves, and gets most of the darts for what he does not.
“There are probably a lot of people today enjoying freedoms who have no idea Hugh Hefner was the pioneer who got all the arrows. He fought for it on every level, everybody, and if you think it’s just about sex, then you’re looking through the keyhole, and you’re not seeing the whole picture” — Bill Maher, comedian/talk show host
81-year-old Hugh Hefner is also a man with many causes, one of which was his support of the civil rights movement and, surprisingly, the women’s rights movement as well. He was even an early proponent for the legalization of marijuana. Academy Award winning director Bridgette Berman tried to capture all of his many sides and the 2 hour running time of “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel” are barely enough to contain his larger than life persona. Berman was kind enough to forward us a copy and, we have to say, it’s very interesting, no, fascinating stuff to say the least.
“By telling the story of the other side of Hugh Hefner, I think it sheds some light on other important issues of America,” Berman told EURweb’s Lee Bailey.
[Scroll down to watch the trailer for “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel“]
For those that are too young to remember, and for those that may have forgotten, Hugh Hefner was against all of the social norms of the day. He was not only against the prudish sexual nature of the day, but he was against racism and for the women’s suffrage movement. All of this while being targeted by the Catholic church, the religious right and the FBI. An incredible man to say the least. “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel” also features commentary from some of his harshest critics and that makes the film that much more interesting. How many biographers will add the naysayers commentary?
Brilliant as far as we’re concerned!
“Playboy magazine and that whole mind set, that whole philosophy, that whole attitude of no restraint whatsoever, moral, spiritually any other way, has contributed more than any other single ingredient, to the breaking of the moral compass,” says Christian activist and singer Pat Boone.
“There was no situation as to whether Hef would allow it,” said Berman of including dissenting views in the documentary. “He truly believes in freedom of speech, first amendment. With that comes yay and nay. You can see that it’s a labor of love and a lot of work went in to it. It was important for me that this not be a Valentine to Mr. Hefner. Even though I am a friend of his, the friend retreated to the back and I became a filmmaker, first and foremost.”
The film is honest and includes many of Hugh Hefner’s staunchest enemies, but it includes some surprising friends as well.
“Many people in the festival screenings have said they came under protest,” said Berman. “They didn’t really want to see a film about Hugh Hefner and were kind of dragged there. They said they were astonished about the things that they learned; his activism in civil rights, his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Jim Brown and he have had a long, outstanding friendship.”
Some may have also forgotten that Martin Luther King Jr’s last article was published in Playboy and was edited by Coretta Scott King. History bears witness to, and the film reminds of, the fact that Hugh Hefner has gone to great lengths to do what he saw was right. In the 1960s the Playboy Clubs in Miami and New Orleans would not allow African American patrons in, so Hefner used his money to buy the clubs back at a considerable loss so black patrons could be allowed in. In the late 1960s his late night variety show “Playboy After Dark” featured mixed race musical acts and audience members when America was still soaked in bigotry and hate. Also, Hugh Hefner was instrumental in pushing jazz to the mainstream with his Playboy Jazz Festival. Because of Hefner, a lot of black people got to feed their families and that’s not even the half of it.
“Hefner fought against injustice, and fought to change, and to bring about a truth in this country,” says Jim Brown in the film. “He maximized his influence to make this a better country, and that’s all he was trying to do, to make it an honest country.”
Brown continues, “Anytime you’re free like Hef was in America, you’re dangerous. A CIA agent once told me, ‘if you’re doing all the great work in the world, and you’re influencing people, but you’re not controlled by the government, they don’t like it.’ So, Hef had too much influence and nobody could control him. There’s only a few warriors left from the 60s, and Hef is definitely one of them.”
“Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel” is being released by Metaphor Films and being distributed by Phase 4 Films. It includes commentary on Hef from the likes of Dick Gregory, George Lucas, Tony Bennett, Jenny McCarthy, Joan Baez and many more.
We found it extremely informative and entertaining. We had no idea of the many significant contributions toward our freedoms and civil rights that Hugh Hefner has made over the years.
Even if you don’t agree with his open views toward sex, we highly recommend you check it out. Like we said, you might be surprised at what you don’t know.