This always happens to me: I left the room 30 seconds before Janet Jackson flashed her boob.
Fortunately, America has shocked, shocked Matt Drudge to fill us in, including a handy enlargement of the offending breast, blown up enough to reveal that was no pasty she was wearing, but ewwwww a nipple piercing.
1) I went to high school with Justin Timberlake’s uncle. America, I had no idea this would happen, and I’d have stopped it if I did.
2) I think “wardrobe malfunction” is a hilarious phrase in and of itself, and I intend to use it as often as possible in the future.
3) When it comes to the Super Bowl’s rather titanic cognitive dissonance, I still think Jon Carroll said it best a year ago. (I know I’m always linking to Jon Carroll, and I should stop. But he is a genius, so I don’t.)
4) I liked the donkey-who-wanted-to-be-a-Clydesdale ad best. The dog that bit the other guy’s crotch was a border terrier, in case you’re wondering, an up-and-coming breed for you scruffy-terrier fans.
5) My history prof, today: “This class has now hosted two Super Bowl MVPs.”
That is all. Wardrobe malfunction.
UPDATE: I think Sally Jenkins says it best, in the WashPost:
The blame game has begun. CBS, MTV and a slew of spokespeople are pointing fingers at each other over Justin Timberlake’s ripping away of Janet Jackson’s bodice on national TV to reveal that she has, in fact, a breast. (Lord knows what might have happened if the world discovered she has two of them.) No doubt most of the fingers will be aimed at Timberlake and Jackson for further eroding our society. It’s that dangerous rap music that makes kids behave this way, right? But I’d rather point my own finger directly at the league. If the Super Bowl halftime show was offensive and unsuitable for family viewing, I blame Paul Tagliabue and his fellow marketing executives at the NFL. It was their show, start to finish.
Maybe now we’ll finally grasp the fact that the league is just another mass entertainment company, the Viacom of sports.
For years NFL marketers have preyed on the sensibilities of the nation to sell their sponsors’ products. They have appropriated sex, patriotism, war and even the tragedy of Sept. 11 as commercial vehicles, and used them all to peddle more Coors and cars. You can always count on the NFL, during any legitimate national outpouring of sincerity, to seize on the topic of the day and bend it as a selling tool, along with breasty cheerleaders, Britney Spears and faux-militarism, in search of higher ratings and ad revenues. A 30-second Super Bowl spot now costs $2.3 million. So for the league to be suddenly shocked and indignant at the behavior of a bunch of MTV entertainers it hired in partnership with CBS to boost its cool points and halftime ratings is utterly disingenuous, and craven. Exactly what did the league expect when it rented the MTV culture?
Bonus points for calling Ms. Janet’s orbs “weapons of mass distraction.”
Miss Beth said on February 2, 2004 at 8:20 pm
Easy with the “ewwwwing” of the nipple piercings, lady. Makes me feel like a freak…oh wait. I am one.
deb said on February 2, 2004 at 8:23 pm
my 13-year-old witnessed this incident. his verdict: “justin timberlake is a perv, man.”
Michael G said on February 2, 2004 at 8:36 pm
I never have been able to understand why Americans are so terrified by the sight of a woman’s breast. I’m also baffled that nobody objected to the genuinely abhorrent nature of the act seen during the Super Bowl half time show. Ripping a woman’s clothes off is an assault. It is grossly a offensive act. As a portrayal, approved by a CBS executive suite that rejected a moveon.org advert as inappropriate for the Super Bowl, it is equally offensive. The message to all those kids from nine to ninety watching the Super Bowl is that if it’s cool for that no class piece of shit Justin Timberlake to rip a girl’s clothes off on national TV, it must be cool for you to do it. Repeat: My objection is not to nudity; my objection is to glorifying a public assault on a woman. Even a woman who badly needs a career boost.
Nance said on February 2, 2004 at 10:20 pm
Well, see, that’s the deal, Michael. I just can’t get my panties in a bunch over how horrified everyone seems to be about the coarsening of America blah blah, when it’s perfectly obvious this was a) approved at the highest levels; and b) it’s the cultural pinnacle of red-state America essentially saying, sure, this is OK. I mean, can these people ever strike the right balance? It’s either the most ridiculous schlock — Up With People, the 9/11 and space-shuttle tributes, the annual mangling of the national anthem by the diva of the moment — or the other extreme. Is it so hard to figure out how to have a rowdy good time without flashing tits all over the place?
Michael G said on February 3, 2004 at 8:58 am
I don’t care what people wear or don’t wear on TV, Nance. I don’t care about piercings either as long as it’s not me getting poked. I just fail to see why I am the only one to find anything objectionable in the act of a man walking up to a woman and stripping her top off. If the average man on the street walked up to a woman and duplicated the act seen Sunday evening, he’d be locked up, branded as a sex offender, etc. etc. I guess it’s just my California metrosexual sensitivities acting up . . .
Michael G said on February 3, 2004 at 9:07 am
Udate!! Mickey Kaus agrees with me!
And I agree with you, Nance, about the National Anthem. Leave your song “styling” and your “interpretive” singing and your faking the tough notes for some other song. It’s the National Anthem, damnit and it should be sung straight. It’s a difficult song; if you can’t sing it don’t.
Wow! I better lay off the dietary supplements.
Nance said on February 3, 2004 at 9:09 am
Probably people aren’t upset because it was so obviously planned ahead of time. I mean, who thinks she was surprised? I don’t. I’ll leave the symbolism of the act to others, but mostly what I saw was about as alarming as watching a cash register drawer pop open.
deb said on February 3, 2004 at 9:13 am
michael, you are not alone. and i’m not a california metrosexual; i’m a wisconsin soccer mom.
my husband made the same point you did — that the boys who make up a sizable chunk of the super bowl audience would see this sideshow and think this kind of behavior is cool.
it’s interesting, though, that nobody seems to be slamming janet. you’re telling me she wasn’t complicit in this? i don’t think so.
thompson said on February 3, 2004 at 12:58 pm
Janet Jackson simply upped the stakes in what female pop singers believe they must do to revive flagging sales and generate media attention. (eg. Britney and Madonna girl-on-girl action, Christina Aguilera’s whole slutty wardrobe, etc.) What’s next, a view of Mariah Carey’s bikini wax?
The pre-game and halftime shows were both lame, with tired stars singing snippets of old hits in disjointed “medleys.” I could have sat through a whole halftime of Texas Southern University’s “Ocean of Soul” marching band (which appeared at the very start of the halftime show) — the name tells you all you need to know.
mtk said on February 3, 2004 at 9:48 pm
I find the whole “stunt” nature of this kind of thing really, really sad. Two performers, and very likely CBS and MTV officials, do something adolescent and beyond what they know the FCC will allow, then claim it was a clothing malfunction, they didn’t know it would happen, etc. They get lots of notoriety, and let us all know they believe the entire nation (including the audience and fans they crave) is a bunch of dupes. It’s insulting and opportunistic. It’s also what the world sees in Western culture — the cheap thrill and then deny, deny, deny.
Another point: The *whole* dance act was so degrading (lyrics, “moves,” attire) that the tearaway stunt at the end really wasn’t out of keeping with what had come before it. And nobody should be too worried about what their family saw as the breast popped out. Anybody whose family dynamic is comfortable with the viewing of something that tawdry in the first place shouldn’t be shaken by a breast in the mix. For heaven’s sake, kids shouldn’t have been watching the act in the first place.
Melissa said on February 4, 2004 at 2:06 am
Two seconds of boob at the Super Bowl and everybody goes ballistic. 40 minutes at the State of the Union, and nobody says a word.
Dan McAfee said on February 4, 2004 at 10:08 am
If a boob is someone who learned to fly fighter jets, graduated from Yale and then Harvard, was a governor and then a president, stood his ground when his allies were weak (and bribed), then praise be for boobs.
As far as people turning off the half time show, I know personally of three area churches who were holding large screen projection TV viewings for middle/high schoolers. The systems were set up and the chaparones had no clue where the channel changers or the off switches were. Certainly gave our priest a chance to discuss moral behavior.
Lance Mannion said on February 5, 2004 at 9:44 am
Nance, Forgive me. I can’t pass this up. I have nothing to say about Janet Jackson’s boob, but way too much to say about the definition of the other kind of boob.
I don’t mind supporters of Prince Dubya defending him or his policies. But it dismays me that they think they have to puff his resume whenever they do it.
Bush got into Yale as a legacy not on a scholarship. He barely graduated, after having un-distinguished himself as a student, a fact he likes to boast about. Yes, he learned how to fly fighter planes. But he didn’t learn to do it in the Marines, or in the Air Force, or in the Navy, because if he had he would have then had to fly his fighter in actual combat. He learned to fly in the National Guard so that he wouldn’t have to fly a plane into combat, something else he has boasted about. And after learning how to fly a plane he never, ever flew one (unless you really believe he was at the controls during that stunt on the aircraft carrier). This is not the resume of a hero, a go-getter, or even a competent and hard working young man.
His career as graduate of Harvard Business School suggests he never paid attention in class, and his record as governor of Texas is distinguished mostly by the number of people he let be executed.
It seems that if you are going to argue that W. is not a boob, you have to argue that he is not one in spite of his CV.
And as far as standing his ground on Iraq, well, he’s not doing that, is he? He’s planning to cut and run from there by the end of June. Just like he’s run from Afghanistan. Standing one’s ground is a morally neutral virtue. For it to be a good thing, you have to be sure you are not wrong or in the wrong or doing wrong. And that you can hold that ground.
Just ask General Custer.
Dan McAfee said on February 5, 2004 at 11:40 am
I think you make the case for Bush’s non-boobness very well. Saying Bush graduated from Yale and Harvard doesn’t seem to me to puff up his GPA. Saying he learned to fly fighter jets doesn’t imply that he was in the Marines, either. Boobs are supposed to be naive and foolish, kind of chumps among others who know much more. When you write about his career, he is anything but that… he took advantage, wired the system, acted like a playboy, but he wasn’t a boob, now was he. Calling Bush a boob is no more enlightened than calling Gore a liar. Niether case is supported by the facts.