It's hard to overstate the impact Playboy has had on American culture. The magazine was a trailblazer, the first of its kind, and as such, it was instantly a lightning rod for controversy and, at the same time, exactly what a lot of people needed.
Focusing on the whole Miss-July-bunny-costume aspect of Playboy would be too easy. In many ways, sex appeal was secondary. The centerfolds were a hook to get people reading about big ideas, and the magazine launched dozens of careers and introduced readers to some profound and amazing voices. Under Hugh Hefner's guidance, Playboy challenged a lot of stuffy, backward norms — it was woke before being woke was even a thing.