Opinion Brief

Playboy's 'Jesus with naked ladies' photo flap

The Portuguese edition of Playboy signed its own death warrant by publishing a NSFW photo spread of Jesus hovering amid naked women

The Portuguese edition of Playboy is being shuttered after publishing a series of photos that depict Jesus consorting with naked women (NSFW). The spread was intended as a tribute to Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago, who died earlier this year and whose most famous book, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, featured a flawed and eminently human Jesus. Parent company Playboy Enterprises says it didn't approve the photos and is discontinuing publication of the Portuguese edition based on the local editors' "shocking breach of our standards."  Does the magazine deserve its fate?

The photos are ill-conceived, at best: Jose Saramago was an atheist, says Nathan Burchfiel at News Busters, so marking his death with a bunch of images "depicting Jesus Christ in sex scenes" seems like a bit of a "non-sequitor." On the other hand, Playboy has a history with this sort of stunt, including depicting the Virgin Mary nude in the December 2008 issue of the magazine's Mexican edition.
"Portuguese Playboy depicts Jesus observing sex scenes"

For book lovers, this is pretty cool: "The shock value of the cover and concept is undeniable," says Robert Quigley at Geekosystem. But whether you love this "Jesus-with-naked-ladies photoshoot" or hate it, you have to admit it's "kind of cool that when a Portuguese Nobel laureate dies, Playboy's first instinct is to pull out all the stops to honor him."
"Jesus graces cover of Playboy Portugal [NSFW]"

It was a crass stunt that blew up in their faces:  It's difficult to see this photo spread "as a tribute to Sarmago's work," says Peter Cairns at The First Post. Playboy's Christ "is as idealised and unreal as that of any kitsch Catholic icon, not all-too human like Saramago's." It's hard to see the spread as anything more than a "cheap attempt to stir up outrage and grab publicity." In practice, "it seems to have backfired."
"Playboy Portugal to shut down of blasphemy outrage" [NSFW]

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