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Abstract

This paper is a rhetorical exploration of Playboy.com and its attempt to manage ethos and identity. Online groups have embraced the Web for its potential to connect them to users directly, but they must now face rising security problems, the lack of traditional gatekeeping controls, and a rapidly changing environment. Playboy has to confront not only these medium-oriented difficulties, but also its own unique exigencies if it wishes to develop and maintain its credibility with target audiences. Drawing upon classical conceptions of ethos and also contemporary theories of identity, this investigation reveals that a large range of linguistic and non-linguistic techniques is possible to negotiate these demands. Specifically, Playboy attempts to create an identity that can assuage the doubts of visitors, which is the first step toward gaining their loyalty and money as members. What they pay for, however, is not only the Playboy lifestyle and beautiful women, but also a sexual identity of control, confidence, and status.