If you dig through our family photo albums, you’ll find photo after photo of me with a book peeking into the corner of the frame. There’s one where I’m intently reading an Animorphs, another with Stranger in a Strange Land, and my favorite of all time… a cruise ship cabin with a giant hardbacked copy of Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream.
But my litany is easily topped by this collection of photos from real Playboy readers, ones who wrote in to share shots of themselves as young soldiers carrying Playboy across Vietnam. There’s a strange sweetness in the contributions… maybe because in the act of writing, we know that each of these gentleman made it back.
General Order 1, issued by U.S. Central Command in 2000, prohibits soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq from possessing explicit materials. Unsurpisingly, the troops have worked around this barrier, with photographic evidence. The logic of the order is baffling to me; the material is prohibited because it’s content might offend locals. We do a lot of things that might offend locals for a variety of social and religious reasons, Playboy is really what we think is going to cause the biggest problem? I get the need to work within the parameters of civilian foreigners… but I place a pretty high value on soldier morale. Whether that’s Playboy, or a Bible, or the New Yorker (with a turbaned Obama? Like that’s not supremely offensive?) or a Honcho… who cares? Whatever lets you fall asleep at night and get up in the morning with enough energy and endurance to keep your shit together.
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