In the current socio-political climate, is it even safe to say that Playboy, as an entity, is a safe and generally tame endeavor? Especially in an American society so deathly afraid of anything remotely sexual that the sight of a single areola sends Red-State Soccer Moms and Nascar Dads into screaming fits of dizzying hysteria, the likes of which would make Jonathan Edwards (the fire-and-brimstone preacher, not that other nutsucker) seem cool and rational in comparison? What's that?... What are you supposed to tell your children? Maybe that it's a boob?! Heavens forbid.
it's the fiftieth anniversary of Hugh Hefner's creation. Fifty years of young
boys stacking them underneath their beds. Fifty years of young boys sneaking
them into the boy's bathroom in junior high schools, oohing and aahing at the
sight of gloriously air-brushed beauties in various stages of undress. And why
not? At a time of rampant conservatism, so-called moral righteousness and
massive sexual repression, Hef sunk every penny he had into a risky endeavor: a
magazine that would balance features on art, music, politics,
humor, entertainment, sports, and other endeavors with pages and pages of
the most beautiful naked women he could find. Taboo? Of course! This was the
mid-1950s. But the magazine was a smash, and became an intrinsic weave in the
fabric of popular culture.
Playboy's 50th Anniversary
Celebration is presented in a fullframe aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The
presentation is mix of archival footage combined with recently-taped material,
and the end result is satisfactory if not excessively impressive. One can easily
accept the older, archival footage for what it is. Several of these clips go
back to the 1950s, and one sincerely cannot expect them to be any sharper than
they are. Colors are generally acceptable, sharpness levels are moderate, and
there is little to nothing in terms of compression noise, haloing, or
edge-enhancement. The transfer looks good enough, end of story.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, and
the soundtrack is generally acceptable. Dialog levels come across satisfactorily
with some decent if not highly impressive range to many of the musical numbers
(Chicago, Blu Cantrell, etc.) Again, like the video it's decent enough but
Included in this disc's extras are twelve-minutes of interviews featuring Jenny McCarthy and John DiResta as the interviewees. Here's a handy tip for everyone, everywhere: no one gives a shit about what Melissa Rivers has to say. About anything. Ever. Next up are Playboy's Part Jokes with comedian Jeffrey Ross and Playmate Stacy Fuson. This runs maybe two minutes long, and that's just enough time for a pee break. Rounding out the extras are a photo gallery and trailers for 50 Years of Playmates, Rita, 2005 Video Playmate Calendar, Video Centerfold: 2004 Playmate of the Year Carmella Decesare, and Video Centerfold: 50th Anniversary Playmate Colleen Shannon.
Playboy's 50th Anniversary Celebration is really not worth your time, although the proud and the faithful definitely might want to give the feature a rental. Skip the party segments and go straight for the old footage; you'll be much better off. Oh, and Barbi Benton and Raquel Welch still look phenomenal. Hats off to ya, ladies.