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Thanks, Janet & Justin

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I'm finding a lot to get fired up about these days. There's the onslaught of developers taking over Chatham County, where I live. There's the shockingly explicit music videos I see on the monitors at the gym. There's the prevalence of violence in movies (Lord of the Rings no exception). There's the prevalence of violence on TV, in shows like Cops and The Sopranos (OK, I'm a fan of that one). There's the violence our government is perpetuating in Iraq. And of course there's the possibility of having George W. Bush in the White House for another four years.

Sometimes it's all so overwhelming I don't know what to get upset about first, and I just end up depressed instead. Luckily, on Monday I saw something on TV at the gym that put it all in perspective for me--the halftime show at the Super Bowl.

I didn't see the whole halftime show. All I saw was the clip of Justin Timberlake ripping off Janet Jackson's shirt to expose her right breast--the clip the five o'clock news showed over and over and over again (offending body part fuzzed out, of course). The news also showed reactions from the public about this horrific event: Women were outraged that their elementary-school-aged children were exposed to such, um, exposure; men (with straight faces) deemed Jackson's breast offensive and very inappropriate. The news on the network that had aired the Super Bowl issued apology after scripted apology, saying they were demanding that the event coordinators, or the FCC, or whoever was in charge, darn it, take measures to ensure that such a deplorable event never makes it into our living rooms again.

The deplorable event being not the violence of Timberlake's act (he reached across Jackson's body, grabbed hold, and ripped with all his might)--that is obviously not the troubling part, since the news saw fit to run the clip on a practically looping reel. No, it's the body part itself that was troubling. Just think, all those poor elementary-school-aged children, some of whom may not have recovered from the trauma of their first breast exposure during nursing, were innocently watching the Super Bowl, munching on (MSG-laden, artificially flavored) snack mix, when they were subjected to yet another breast sighting. Troubling indeed.

Thankfully, I now know where I should be directing my outrage. Iraq and the White House and the environment and my county and my civil liberties can wait. I've got a letter to the FCC to write.

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