The JANET JACKSON
We Americans are embarrassing ourselves again. Back in the late 1990s, a certain Independent Prosecutor showed the world our obsession with our President’s sex life. More recently, our current President showed ‘em that America could bomb the crap out of a country, if we felt like it. Then Janet showed America her silver starburst. Now Americans are showing the world we’ve gone bananas over a breast.
We Americans love to show off, and we love to watch. We make the whole world watch our stars and our wars. It’s often embarrassing, but I guess we just can’t help ourselves.
I like to watch, I confess. I mean, for once in my life, I wish I was a football fan. Yes, I didn’t watch the Super Boob--uh, Bowl, so I missed seeing the notorious Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake “wardrobe malfunction” live. However, I have been able to view it in digital stills on the Internet, from four or five different angles, plus a fine close-up, thanks to the Drudge Report. And all I can say is: Nice. A lovely, well-shaped, obviously real, stylishly pierced, middle-aged breast of color. What’s not to like?
Apparently, a host of evils of obscene and embarrassing proportions, according to America’s new Anthony Comstock of the Airwaves: Federal Communications Commission Chief Michael Powell (whose naked head looks kind of obscene and embarrassing to me). If only Michael’s Papa, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, would get as exercised over the missing WMDs as his son has gotten over a pop star’s missing bra cup, America might be less embarrassed about being caught with our political pants down right now. But no. The father keeps his council about the Bushies’ bogus “mushroom cloud,” while the son blows his stack over a boob.
There he was, ensconced in the bosom of his family, “gathered around” the boob tube, for a “celebration” of 280-pound pseudo-soldiers clobbering one another, when the Jackson Breast busted out upon his screen for one eternal second in a long shot. Powell was “outraged!” How dare his delight in the wholesome spectacle of men in dirty tights body-slamming other men in dirty tights be “tainted” by such a “classless, crass and deplorable stunt”? Horrors! A boob! On the other hand, I’m sure the Powell Family really enjoyed the Viagra commercials. Erectile dysfunction: yes! Wardrobe malfunction: no.
And yet, the Super Boob rules. Janet’s ripe right melon is everywhere, in family newspapers, magazines, TV, all over the Internet. Hey, once one shows it, the rest can too! We have the prudes to thank, in part, for this massive media proliferation. What Ken Starr did for blowjobs and semen stains, Michael Powell is doing for pierced mammaries.
Now all sorts of righteously indignant Americans are speaking out against the vile sight of a woman’s chest, from MTV’s Tom (don’t-blame-me/blame-her!) Freston to Knoxville, Tennessee’s Terri Carlin who is suing Janet, Justin, MTV, CBS and Viacom, claiming she was traumatized, thus entitled to monetary damages. What will she win: the booby prize?
But Powell was first to condemn the breast, and continues to lead the pack in blustering, spare-no-expense sanctimony.. Powell and Jackson are quite a pair. Both are shadowed by their more famous older relatives. Powell is Dr. Chillingworth to Jackson’s Hester Prynn. His pompous, clueless style rivals that of America's Crisco-Headed Attorney General Ayatollah Asscraft (who earned that name when he forced the Patriot Act up America’s collective behind--with no Crisco!). Asscraft spent $8000 in taxpayers’ money for a set of drapes to cover up the gloriously bare right breast of the “Spirit of Justice,” an elegant statue that has towered behind American Attorneys General for some 70 years. Powell will spend far more taxpayer money than this as he excitedly launches his “thorough and swift” federal “probe” into just who knew the boob would be bared. Stations will pay. Heads will roll. Breasts will tremble. Oooh, probe me, baby, probe me.
Powell’s breast must be trembling, knowing that it’s his own lust for naked, unbridled corporate control of the media--the kind of thing that allows a Viacom to wholly own a CBS along with an MTV--that spawned this “shocking” Jackson Moment: The Boob that Filled the Super Bowl. Girl Gone Wild! Huge Bloated Media Conglomerate Breaks Out of its Bra and Devours America! Busted.
It’s all so embarrassing, not for Janet or Viacom, but for us Americans. It’s not the breast that’s the problem; it’s the cover-up. Europeans, South Americans and Japanese bare their boobs regularly on primetime TV, not to mention the beaches. America’s appalled, sensationalizing yet sanctimonious attitude toward bosom-baring puts us a bit closer to the camp of our so-called enemies, those misogynist Islamic fundamentalists who demand the female body be covered almost completely in tent-like burqas (why stop with the breast when you can be “outraged” by the mouth, the ankle, the hair?), as they glorify muscle-pumping, bone-crunching male brutality on fields of battle and fields of play.
Thankfully, unlike their Islamist brethren, our American fundamentalists don’t make us cover the whole female breast. Some of the most zealous critics of Janet’s boobage sport or enjoy gazing upon ample cleavage. Take a gander at the plunging décolletage of the ladies surrounding some of America’s most conservative preachers, not to mention the NFL cheerleaders. It’s the nasty NIPPLE that offends the American sensibility. This has been so ingrained into most of us that we rarely ask why. Why? If cleavage is okay, then why is a woman’s nipple more “deplorable” than a man’s nipple? Is it because it can nurture a child, while a man’s can’t? Must we bite the nipple that feeds us?
Of course, Janet probably likes being bitten. Clearly, the girl is no sissy about pain; those big nasty nipple-shield piercings hurt. Like her talented, infamous brother, she’s androgynous: tough as a linebacker in body armor, soft as a natural breast; an exhibitionist (of course), with a streak of the “naughty girl.” She doesn’t seem to be as fragile as her brother Michael, but like all the Jacksons, she’s probably got a bit of a Daddy complex. Even as she apologizes so submissively to anyone "offended" by the "costume reveal" that went "too far," she seems to savor being spanked by the same American prudes who impeached one US President for a sex lie and now support one who perpetrates a war lie. She doesn’t seem to mind being gagged by the Grammies, or the know-nothing nudniks at CBS who censor the likes of MoveOn.org. Though getting bitch-slapped by MTV (who promoted the Janet Jackson Super Bowl Show as promising “shocking moments”) might sting a bit.
But the exhibitionist in her must be orgasming over all the attention. It might be embarrassing, but it’s intoxicating! And there’s no denying that most of us love it. At least, Super Bowl viewers do, as evidenced by the 180% spike in TiVo viewership immediately after the Jackson Flash. Janet’s number one on the Internet this week, far surpassing Britney and Paris. Pundits of every type, from Sports to Music to Politics to Sex, are writing, cartooning and pontificating upon the meaning of The Super Boob. The Breast Seen ‘Round the World. It is, indeed, a Moment in Mammarial Herstory.
Why such a big deal about a bosom? It’s about sex, of course (sex sells!), but breasts are far more essential to nurturing than to sexual intercourse. And therein lies the origin of the all-American obsession with breasts: that deep need we all have for deep nurturance. Sustenance. Comfort in a Cold World. Food. The breast is food, after all, that unique part of a woman's body that actually creates food: the milk of life and love and shocking moments.
It’s kind of mystifying, the tit that titillated America into a “state of mass apoplexy” as BBC Correspondent Peter Bowes put it. It’s also a bit frightening. The Jackson case could have a "galvanizing effect" on the move to toughen standards, said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (while furtively rubbing his crotch). Expect more aggressive, punitive attempts to control the airwaves from a government hot to get its grimy hands on all our innocent, tender boobies. Expect the thimbelful of giant corporations--like Viacom, Time Warner, Disney and Fox News Corp--who control Big Media to lick the leather jackboots of the FCC on this issue, like well-paid hookers, so that they can continue to get the MONEY and gobble up more media outlets. They’re already burning Janet at the stake. With one Jackson thoroughly demonized, it’s no stretch to sacrifice another one, at least temporarily, until Powell’s "outrage" has abated.
Of course, it doesn't stop with Janet. It’s already moved on to “ER” canceling an episode that featured an elderly woman’s bare breast, and to all stations incorporating five-minute delays into their live broadcasts, index fingers poised to press the bleep button. Unfortunately, what the tragedy of 9-11 did for American militarism, Nipplegate might do for American censorship. We Americans, addicted as we are to showing off, punishing and embarrassing ourselves, could allow the moral scolds among us to crack the whip across our tender freedoms.
Then again, who knows. The boob is out of the bag! Maybe next, we’ll see the left one...