04 February 2004

Too Much Hype About a Nipple

Because of Janet Jackson's inadvertent or was it advertent showing of a nipple, there have been nearly 2000 news accounts of the incident worldwide. Here are my 3 best choice cuts:

>>>>From the Hollywood Reporter<<<<
Feb. 04, 2004

They hired a Jackson: What did they expect?

By Ray Richmond
It's the breast that's launched a thousand fits.

Who needs WMD when we've got Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, on a stage at the Super Bowl, with the whole country watching, flashing the establishment? Naughty pop stars though they are, they couldn't possibly have imagined the can o' worms they were cranking open.

Jackson has already admitted planning the boob-baring boo-boo herself, thereby absolving CBS and halftime show producer MTV of something akin to treason. The FCC wasted little time choking on its collective Cheetos, vowing this week to get to the bottom of this and inspiring FCC chairman Michael Powell to label the moment a "classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."

To which I reply: They do?

Did Jackson sell nuclear secrets to China while I wasn't paying attention? Is our national security suddenly fully compromised? Did our terrorism alert level just go to red?

Or was this simply a case of a couple of rambunctious entertainers picking the wrong moment to perpetrate a PR stunt -- that is, when a new puritanism is coming swiftly into vogue at the highest levels of government?

Let's not waste a lot of time overanalyzing whether this little improvisational diversion may have done emotional harm to any kids who were watching. It was there and gone in a mere few fleeting seconds.

If anything is going to damage the moral fiber of America's youth, it's the indignation and fallout in the moment's wake, the high-voltage, far-out-of-proportion reaction of grown men and women.

This naturally isn't about the children. It never is. It's about re-election-minded public officials who won't rest until they work the indecency-outrage angle as much as possible to show that they're not really in bed with Big Media.

Of course, the FCC is already in obscenity crackdown mode. This simply gives the censorheads more fodder. Meanwhile, it's apparently just fine during the game for Bud Light to run a spot that appears to endorse a monkey's being intimate with a woman and another ad (plugging Budweiser) that shows a woman ranting and raving shrewlike at her husband.

The message would seem to be this: It's permissible to demean women, and even to look at them as sexual playthings. God knows football telecasts are chock-full of phallic imagery. But just let one female make the sexuality itself overt and there's hell to pay. Because that's different, you see. That's pornography.

It's been forgotten that part of the risk you run with live television is that things you don't plan sometimes occur. Someone may even want to act up at your expense. That unpredictable nature of the live broadcast was once considered part of its allure. But in this increasingly uptight era, there can apparently be no surprises without consequences.

Was it inappropriate? Sure. But let me get this straight: You hire Janet Jackson and then you're shocked -- shocked! -- when she doesn't behave like a Girl Scout? It's a given that when you get into business with a Jackson, you're occasionally going to encounter a breast case scenario. That's just the way it is.

Given the whole star-spangled, mom/apple pie tenor of the event, it was shortsighted to plan a halftime bash around Nelly, Kid Rock, P. Diddy and Jackson to begin with. That's not exactly swift demographic planning for an annual event that is TV's big blowout of the year and as American as apple pie. So in large measure, CBS and MTV have only themselves to blame.

This doesn't make Michael Powell any less a strident prude, however. And when an administration insists on allowing the rampant politicization of broadcasting, this is the result. You wind up stoking national outrage over the brief flashing of a flap of skin, making you look like the real boob.

That's the naked truth.

>>>>From BusinessWeek<<<<

By Eric Wahlgren and Amey Stone

If You Think Janet's Breast Is a Worry...
So Super Bowl fans were shocked. Big deal. There are more important things to fret about than a single rogue mammary

For the record, we didn't like it, either. Who tuned into Super Bowl XXXVIII expecting to see such a spectacle of a halftime show, with the finale built around a bare boob? One of us watching the gyrations was with an impressionable 4-year-old, who saw dance moves that definitely aren't taught in her toddler ballet class. For her, the "wardrobe malfunction" was possibly the least of the shockers on stage that night. And we don't accept the performers' and network's apologies claiming it was an accident.

What really alarms us now, however, is how much attention the Janet Jackson breast-bearing flap is getting. The Federal Communications Commission is vowing to figure out if the episode violated indecency standards. If so, Viacom (VIAB ), whose MTV division produced the show and whose CBS unit aired it, could face steep penalties. There are reports that Time Warner (TWX ), whose America Online unit sponsored the spectacle, wants some of its money back.

Let's all get a grip. It seems this was just a bad publicity stunt. Should we really be so surprised? After all, Jackson and Justin Timberlake could hardly be expected to waltz across the stage like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (now that would have been truly shocking).

The world has a lot more pressing concerns right now than a bodice-ripping snafu during the Super Bowl halftime show. Want something really worth worrying about? Want to spend taxpayer dollars on something more important than a probe into Nipplegate breast-baring? Here are a few concerns that top our list:

Osama: Where the heck is he? The U.S. has been hunting for the mastermind of the September 11 attacks for more than two years now. Last week, the military said it was "sure" it would catch the six-foot, four-inch terrorist leader this year. But for now, all they have are those scratchy video and audio tapes he keeps putting out.

Jobs: Back in October, Treasury Secretary John Snow predicted the U.S. economy would create 200,000 jobs a month. Even at that rate, it would have been slow-going to get the 3 million folks who lost their jobs in the downturn back to work. But it's not even close. In December, only 1,000 jobs were created. Ouch.

The Growing Deficit: Uncle Sam's sea of red ink for fiscal 2004 is now projected to be more than $500 billion and seems to growing by the day. When will the tide turn? And who's going to pay for it? Parents today should be a lot more worried about the monstrous debt being foisted on their children than Janet Jackson's burst bustier.

Health Care: Politicians pay nothing but lip service to the biggest problem that will face most Americans in their lifetimes: How to provide quality medical care. The Medicare program is grossly underfunded, and with millions of baby boomers entering their Golden Years, companies are forcing existing retirees to pay full freight if they're to stay on corporate health plans. If nothing is done, wait until the children who watched that halftime show catch a glimpse of the cost of caring for their aging parents 30 years from now.

The 2004 Presidential Election: Doesn't matter if you want Bush in or out. What's really worrisome is how few people vote in this country: Only 50% of eligible voters cast ballots in the Presidential election in 2000, down from 63% in 1960. Pathetic -- and even worse when you consider that roughly half the adult population doesn't even register, which means only 25% of voting-age Americans decide who moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Iceland puts the U.S. to shame with a 87% turnout. C'mon folks, aren't isn't this supposed to be the world's greatest democracy?

Interest Rates: Alan Greenspan & Co. dropped a minibomb on January. Instead of saying the Federal Reserve would leave borrowing costs alone for a "considerable period," the Fed chief commented that the central bank would be "patient" about lifting rates. In Fedspeak, that subtle change in tone means: Get ready for a hike. That's the kind of shock -- to stock portfolios, home prices, and debt payments -- that could have significant consequences for millions of Americans this year.

Infectious Diseases: Now there's an outbreak of the avian flu in Asia to worry about. Last year, it was SARS. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed 40 million people. Infectious diseases such as malaria still kill millions of people every year in the developing world. Now that's something to keep you up at night.

Bennifer: Here's a troublesome development for young adults: If Ben and JLo, with all their money and looks, can't get hitched, what are the chances for the government's initiative to promote marriage. And who's going to fill the tabloid pages now? Janet and Justin?

Martha: She's in a heck of a lot more trouble than Janet. And Valentine's Day is around the corner! Who will we turn to for advice on preparing that perfect candlelit dinner for two?

>>>>From the Chicago Sun-Times<<<<

Is it OK because we didn't see the real thing?

February 3, 2004

When I sat down on my sofa with my Wow! chips to halfheartedly watch Sunday's sporting event, I was, at most, expecting ugly uniforms.

In that area, I wasn't disappointed. But the Super Bowl was about so much more. It was about:

*Sex! (Dancing cheerleaders whipping off their skirts with rhythmic abandon.)

*Drugs! (Commercials for erectile dysfunction that warned against some alarming four-hour side effects.)

*Rock 'n' roll! (If you consider the '80s hit "Hey Mickey" to be rock 'n' roll. And I do.)

*Violence! (My God, those men were running into each other head-first!)

I just may watch the Super Bowl every year.

But let's get back to that "sex" bit for now. The halftime show featured dirty lyrics, dirty dancing, and exactly one bare breast. Our nation's children are rubbing their eyes confusedly -- and to be honest, so am I. At this point, there are still more questions than answers.

Am I truly offended by the incident -- or am I too distracted with admiration for what look to be some spectacular breast implants? I mean, here's a woman who could afford D's or even E's, and she seems to have limited herself to a set of solid C's. A fine job!

Is it less offensive because at least the breast she bared wasn't real?

Was it just a publicity stunt? And if so, wasn't it a stupid one?

If it wasn't a publicity stunt, why was Justin fiddling around with Janet's chest anyway?

Wouldn't it have been more shocking to sing a song -- live?

Is this what aging pop stars feel they have to do to still seem "relevant"?

Is it more insulting that I just described a 37-year-old artist as "aging"?

Why is Janet so desperate for gigs that she needs to play the Super Bowl? Or would agree to share the stage? With a white boy?

Why wasn't Janet wearing a bra? With a routine that vigorous, couldn't she have used the support? If not now, when?

Janet and Justin were rumored to be dating in 2002. Does this mean they're getting back together?

What Justin did was essentially a violent act. Or should it be considered less violent because Justin is, you know, cute?

Whatever happened to "Miss Jackson if you're nasty"? Justin qualifies as a "nasty boy," does he not?

Regarding that metal nipple-cozy: Is that comfortable? Does it have to be fitted? Did Janet buy a pair, or are they sold separately? And will the same companies that sold knockoffs of J. Lo's engagement ring now offer cut-rate starbursts?

Will Janet no longer be considered the "normal" Jackson? Will we have to look to LaToya for some stability in the family?

Was Justin trying to top the Madonna-Britney kiss? And couldn't he have done that by simply making out with P. Diddy?

Has Little Penny come to this?

What was the Sun-Times thinking when it ran a photo of it?

And just: Why?

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