Ms. Nasty

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Damian P. Gregory

It was the boob flash seen around the world.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake sent tongues wagging with their racy, some say raunchy, halftime performance at Super Bowl XXXVIII on CBS.

The “costume reveal” which exposed an estimated 140 million TV viewers to Jackson’s bare breast for a few seconds—after Timberlake ripped off her corset—so outraged the Federal Communication Commission that they are planning on levying fines against CBS and their 200-plus affiliates nationwide, some $27,500 apiece.

It has become a federal case.

So earlier this week, when it was announced that Ms. Jackson (she’s Ms. Jackson because she’s nasty) would not be presenting a special tribute to ailing pop and R& B star Luther Vandoss at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards—as planned before the flashing incident—it was not surprising, since the furor over the incident seemed to grow and grow with each passing day.

As part CBS and the recording industry’s knee-jerk reaction, it was announced that the usually edgy Grammy telecast would not air live, but would be subject to a tape delay, to give the network a chance to head off controversial performances or speeches that could get CBS in any further hot water with the Feds.

Again, a bit of an overreaction, but these are times when the country reacts first and thinks later. So when the Grammy telecast hit the air on Sunday, Ms. Jackson was noticeably absent. Who was overwhelmingly present was Justin Timberlake, who in addition to taking the stage as a winner in the Best Pop Male
Vocal Category, performed not once, but twice.

In a lot of ways the night belonged to Justin, while Ms. Jackson has quickly become a pariah.This is disturbing on many levels. Both have apologized for the “unintentional wardrobe malfunction.” But only one—Timberlake—seemed to be forgiven. Sending the message once again that when a white man and a black woman are in a compromising position, society is quicker to forgive the man than the woman. I guess sexual double standards are still alive and well, and living in the hearts of those who run the “liberal” media.

Further, the reaction to booby-gate seems to have a racial tinge to it. When Madonna locked lips with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in September at the MTV Video Music Awards, there was discussion, but no furor. Though all have stirred the pot of controversy and been the subject of thousands of hours of water cooler conversations with their risqué, “dirrty” performances.

But none of the parties involved were forced to cancel appearances or performances. Instead, the lesbian sheik kiss was looped on the cable news networks, talked about with humor and soon faded. Generating much publicity for Spears and helping to propel her album “In the Zone,” to the top of the Billboard album charts in it’s first week of release. Ms. Jackson has, so far at least, not fared as well. One wonders if Spears, not Ms. Jackson, had been the super bowl performer with Timberlake, if she would have been disinvited to the Grammys.

Bottom line: As a male twenty-something viewer the half-time show was
titillating, and entertaining. Yet, disturbing because of the reactions and the underlying reasons for the growing fallout.