February 26, 2005
Parents who are providing their children with cell phones may have perfectly logical reasons for doing so -- but they may want to rethink their rationale because Playboy is planning to start distribution of what it calls "wireless entertainment" early this year.
In a jointly issued media release, Playboy Enterprises (PE) and Dwango Wireless have announced they are joining forces to tap into the huge market of 170 million wireless subscribers throughout North America. The two companies, which are publicly traded via the NYSE and the over-the-market exchanges respectively, intend to flood the mobile phone airwaves with what they refer to as "the fun and sexiness of the classic Playboy lifestyle."
Dwango claims to be a key player in a wireless industry that can provide customized entertainment, games, and applications for mobile phones. Dwango's venture with Playboy Enterprises will serve to expand the reach of Playboy's soft-core pornography entertainment business to mobile cell phone users. Playboy already offers such "wireless entertainment" content in countries such as Germany, Britain, Australia, and Brazil.
According to a joint press statement released in early December, the content will include such things as "Playboy-themed" games, images, video clips, voice clips, and ring tones. A PE spokesman says based on the success it has experienced with wireless offerings around the globe, the company "felt the time was right" to expand into the U.S. market. A Dwango official says his company is "excited" about teaming up with a "respected lifestyle brand" like Playboy. As Dwango president Alexander Conrad puts it: "Playboy enthusiasts will soon have the ability to select from a diverse library of content that fits their unique interests."
Rick Schatz of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families (NCPCF), a non-profit organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has a warning for parents. "The fact is, we are entering a new era in the age of porn ... a time when pornography has jumped from the back alleys to cell phones and MP3 players," he says in a statement issued earlier this month.
Pro-family advocates like Schatz reminds parents that much of the new wireless technology is used by children. For example, Dwango has other similar business relationships, including Rolling Stone magazine, which predominately markets itself to a younger audience. "If there is one thing I can guarantee," Schatz cautions, "your child [already] knows how or will be taught how to ... download porn on [their own] personal wireless device."
Playboy's entry into the wireless market potentially allows more people to experience "the sexiness of the classic Playboy lifestyle," as the porn producer describes it. PE's spokeswoman Jay Jay Nesheim said on Tuesday "that the product [Playboy will ultimately release] is currently in development." She confirmed the product will include a variety of media -- including image files and some branded games -- and that it could be released fairly soon. According to Nesheim, the sale of this entertainment will be age-accessible (through credit cards) "much in the same way it is currently done on the Internet."
'A Tsunami of Porn'
The "entertainment" that Playboy is marketing represents a stark philosophical difference between those at Playboy Enterprises and many pro-family advocates.
Just what is Playboy's lifestyle or philosophy all about? According to author and researcher Dr. Judith Reisman, many of Playboy's consumers "are easily trained to believe that they are being cheated if they have a love life with one woman .... The need for Playboy ... to co-opt Judeo-Christian mores was, and still is, a critical component for [their] success." Reisman concludes by saying that, "economically it is necessary for the sex industry to do two things: first, it must poison men against the love of one woman; and secondly, it needs to sexually disable men."
And like Schatz, Los Angeles radio talk-show host Paul McGuire is concerned what this new agreement between Playboy and Dwango means for America's culture and its families. He says when pornographers like Playboy make their material available to the wireless market, "soon cell phones will open a tsunami of porn images into the cell phones of America."
The popular Southern California radio host adds that "just like the Internet, it will be hard to keep [this] sexual perversion from young people."
An independent study by IDC reveals that 33.2 percent of cell phone users in America are between the ages of 5 and 19. The same research group also reports that cell-phone graphical content is being driven by youthful users. An IDC analyst told TechWeb.com in November 2004 that individuals in that demographic group "are five times more likely to pay for and download graphics than are their adult counterparts."
At least with the Internet, says McGuire, parents have the possibility of policing their children through personal monitoring or through porn filters. But he confesses that pornographers, working hand-in-glove with the wireless industry, have made the job that much more difficult.
Jack Samad, a senior vice president with the NCPCF, sees the technology expanding to where cell phones will include motion video and digital audio. Already, he says, the industry is going to bigger screens and higher definition. Much like what has already happened with video and VCRs, "the porn industry is driving the technology," says Samad.
Samad encourages parents to contact John Muleta, chief of the Wireless Communications Bureau (wireless.fcc.gov) at the Federal Communications Commission, to voice their concerns. He is hopeful the FCC will require the wireless industry to allow for a blocking capability, much like is done now with 900 number calls on the telephone.
James L. Lambert, a frequent contributor to AgapePress, is the author of Porn in America (Huntington House), which can be purchased through the American Family Association. He is a licensed real-estate mortgage loan sales agent and can be contacted through his website (http://www.jamesllambert.com).
National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families (http://www.nationalcoalition.org)
Dr. Judith Reisman (http://www.drjudithreisman.com)
Paul McGuire (http://www.paulmcguire.com)
© 2005 Agape Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.