Counter-Culture and The Vietnam War

Politics has divided the nation! Distrust of the corporate sector! Unrest! The youth are out of control!

To some this may sound like a common complaint in 2013, where the world has suffered from a massive economic crisis, where distrust of business and government is a record high in opinion polling, and youth-centered movements such as Occupy Wall Street has swept the globe crying out for social and economic equality. Derided by the older generation as “anarchists”, “dumb”, and “foolish”, one might think that the world stands upon the precipice of revolution, where the old will clash with the new.

Yet if the readers of today were able to travel back to the mid-1960s and 1970s, they would be shocked to find that the brewing conflict between conservative and liberal, business and community, and the status quo and the next generation were a very real concern for many Americans, and the roots of today’s movements go back decades. At the front of this great shift in thoughts and opinions were some of the finest journalists, artists, and writers of any generation, and it was often that those purveyors of news and opinion could find their work in the pages of Playboy Magazine. Edited by the equally loved and equally reviled Hugh Hefner, Playboy set out to report on the growing tensions in the country in reaction to what many young people saw as government corruption and abuse, inequality among economic classes, the role of religion in daily life, and the value of drugs and alternative lifestyles in our society, as well as the fiery opposition to the Vietnam War.

To Hefner, this was not simply about shedding light on the powers that be, but truly questioning their value according to his "Playboy Philosophy," his personal which examined the value of traditional power structures, the war on drugs, and the suppression of unpopular opinion. In doing so he provided the reader with a path to understanding views which may have seemed foreign and frightening to those outside of these movements, often turning them into their own popular mediums. But Playboy was not free of criticism, as it often included advertisements that played upon the very movements it reported upon.

This is Playboy and Counter-Culture, an in-depth exhibit on the editorial and journalistic focus of Hefner’s iconic magazine from 1965-1975, including interviews, articles, and images the magazine published during those tulmultuous days. 


John Requard