May 11, 2010
Howard and Hef
In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, columnist Steve Lopez profiled Hugh Hefner. And it made me think of Howard.
On the surface, the two couldn’t be more different. Hefner is 30 years older than Stern. He’s the child of deeply Christian Nebraska farmers. He made his reputation cultivating an aura of suave sophistication, worldliness and sex appeal—just about 180 degrees off the image Howard presents as an uncool, uncomfortable, anti-social dork. And yet…
Lopez gets under the surface of Hef, and under the surface, the parallels between the two men become much more obvious.
Both men created a media empire by breaking cultural taboos.
Both men have an intense work ethic. They are hard-working, obsessed perfectionists. And they are both highly intelligent (Hef’s IQ is said to be 150. Howard plays the dope but his is clearly way up there).
Both men have a sense of their historic role. They are meticulous archivers of their lives and careers. While they sell fun, they take their careers quite seriously.
“Hefner held a stack of notes detailing his millions in donations to film preservation and the study of cinema at UCLA and USC,” wrote Lopez, ” as well as a list of 22 documentaries he has helped finance, including movies on Mary Pickford, Lon Chaney and Rita Hayworth.”
Or consider this passage about Hef’s archives:
Of course. the easy parallel is that both men created careers for themselves that were, despite the trials and tribulations, really fun. That’s very very smart.