Todd Hartley: Batty over boobies
February 5, 2004
Technically, this is a sports column, and I know that Janet Jackson’s breast isn’t a sporting event or some sort of sport unto itself, but it did make its public debut during halftime of the Super Bowl, so I will take that flimsy segue and run with it.
I’ve noticed that for some reason the media overlooked the incident, but I think it requires some further discussion. When a cherished member of one of America’s least controversial families bares her breast on national TV, you’d think people might notice.
All kidding aside, even if you missed seeing Janet’s boob live, you’ve no doubt
heard all about it. But if you did miss it, I’ll explain what happened: Justin Timberlake, standing to the left of Janet, reached across her body and pulled away part of her costume, and out popped what looked like a water balloon.
The network cut to a commercial right away, affording no second glance at the boob, and millions of people around the world were left wondering just what they’d seen. In the case of myself and my friends, we were perplexed in particular because the breast appeared white, as if her brother’s plastic surgeons had been having a go at it.
As the footage later showed, what we’d seen was actually a breast with an odd pasty covering the nipple,
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and by the next day it was all over the Internet and the papers. People made such a big deal out of it, in fact, that you’d have thought Janet’s brother had dangled a kid off a balcony or something.
Janet and Justin claimed the boob popped out due to “wardrobe malfunction,” but the fact that Justin pulled away part of her wardrobe on purpose and the use of the pasty proves that both are full of crap. It was a blatant publicity stunt, like Howard Stern baring his ass cheeks in his Fartman costume, only much less vomit-inducing.
Anyway, the powers that be were outraged, and as usually happens in America, the cascade of threatened legal action began. The FCC said it was going to fine CBS, the host network, which will likely sue MTV, the producer of the halftime show. Then all we need is for MTV to sue Janet and then for her to sue Justin. He can then go and sue the person who made the outfit and the heirs of the cow that donated the leather.
What I don’t understand, however, is what all the fuss is about. This is, after all, America in the 21st century. If you haven’t seen a pastied boob on the boob tube by now, you’re probably young enough that you’ve still got a boob in your mouth half the time.
So what’s so exciting about Janet’s boob? Is it just that most of us have never seen it before, or was it the shock value, the way it jumped out of the costume like that?
It clearly can’t be that the mere sight of a breast was enough to induce such furor, because when a lesser celebrity bares one, nobody cares. For crying out loud, L’il Kim appeared as a presenter at the Grammy Awards with a pastied boob hanging out all over the place and the network didn’t censor it. Hell, Diana Ross actually copped a feel off L’il Kim on live TV and nobody batted an eyelash.
And folks can’t be this outraged about Janet’s wardrobe malfunction because they’re afraid that children might see something offensive. Any child with a remote control can channel surf and see women making out with one another, pop stars in their underwear and ass cheeks galore, and if they happen to flip to HBO at the wrong time, they can see a woman showing unattractive couples how to get the most out of anal sex.
What worries me more than the breast itself or the controversy it spawned, though, is what this incident might portend. Those Jacksons love the media spotlight, and I shudder to think what one of Janet’s siblings might do to get it back.
My best guess is that LaToya, attempting to one-up her sister, will grab some sex toys and go do a revealing spread for Hustler or Club or some other classy magazine. Either that or Jermaine will enter the plastic surgery race by having his face removed.
But there remains a strong possibility that Michael will resent Janet for stealing his thunder, and he might start to feel that simple accusations of pedophilia aren’t garnering him enough media attention. So if I were you and I lived within a hundred miles of that freak, I would lock up my kids until this blows over.
[Todd Hartley has been called a boob many times. His column runs on Fridays in The Aspen Times. E-mail at email@example.com]