On “Closing Day” in The Shining, when Jack is sitting and waiting in the lobby for Stuart Ullman and Bill Watson to give him a tour of the hotel, he’s inexplicably reading a copy of Playgirl Magazine.
The issue he’s reading is from January, 1978, which would have come out near the beginning of the film’s production. Some might posit that this is a prank on Jack Nicholson’s part, but that’s highly unlikely given the degree of control Kubrick had over every image in The Shining.
The choice of this particular issue is interesting for three reasons: First, the cover image is portraying a couple winding down from a New Year’s Eve celebration, which relates to the Gold Room’s 1921 New Year’s Eve Ball. Second, the cover image’s prominent use of a mirror, which ties in neatly to the pervasive use of mirrors throughout the entire film. Finally, one of the cover articles is about sexual abuse of children, specifically, incest. There are many people who believe that Jack Torrance’s abuse of Danny went beyond breaking his arm. Kubrick has never spoken about this topic specifically, although in an interview with Michel Ciment, he references Danny’s “frightening and disturbing childhood,” as well as Danny having been “brutalized by his father”.
As with nearly everything Kubrick chose to include in The Shining, the presence of this magazine is open to speculation – yet there are no concrete answers.