Stuck in a metaphor and his pajamas


TIME Magazine Interviews: Hugh Hefner

Here is probably the most classic example of trying to stretch a metaphor past its applicability.  Hughie, dressed perpetually in pajamas has proposed to yet another 20-something blond on Christmas Eve, 2010.  He is only 84, she is 24; it was nearly 60 years ago when he changed American culture with his magazine.

Playboy Magazine introduced a level of nudity and hip sexually previous unheard-of in the United States.  Every month a new girl next door, sweet innocent and yet without clothing; a thing to be lusted after.  But after all of these years in appears the main luster was Hefner himself. The magazine and later the clubs featured and endless stream of those girls; young men in their 20s and 30s followed along drooling, most however grew up, got married, had children and concentrated on careers.  They may have occasionally looked at the pictures – or as the classic joke goes, read the articles – but it did not dominate their thinking or drive their behavior as it had done when they were young.

Hugh, however is stuck, stuck in his pajamas, stuck in his 1950s morality and attitude toward women – simply stuck in his past.  He is the aging, 84 year stripper who still dies her hair red, wears more make-up than 3 or 4 women combined, and prances around in short skirts and high heels.  Only that poor pathetic creature would not be making the from page of the Guardian in the United Kingdom, or getting accepted in marriage by some tender young thing 60 years her junior, regardless of how rich the former stripper might be.

Hefner’s dilemma is common in business, a company whose business model has been passed, but for whatever reason cannot adjust and adapt.  Such businesses seek to recreate former glory by reverting to  practices of 1954.  Picture IBM, Bell Telephone, Walmart, McDonald’s, Penny’s, Sears or the United States Postal Service trying to recreate their business models from 60 years ago for 2010 it doesn’t and never would work.  It is the particular bane of old managers of which I am an example, our ideas and solutions are old and tired and simply not applicable to today’s realities.  I suspect that Dennis Gomes is about to illustrate that principle in Atlantic City, may be not, but all of the elements are in place.  Changing and adapting to changing conditions is an essential component to successful living – which also means taking your vision – your metaphor – from the conditions that apply today, not those of 1954.  Give it up Hefner, you are old regardless of how young the girls are.

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