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The Boob Tube

by Neena Louise

I continue to be amazed at the fallout (no pun intended) over Janet Jackson's breast exposure during the Superbowl half-time show. The repercussions began immediately: the NFL swore they'd never have a half-time show again; indecency fines were raised from something like $27,000 to $500,00 per incident; live broadcasts are subject to a five-second delay (effectively eliminating all live broadcasts); Howard Stern has been dropped from many of his stations (like they're just realizing he can be racy after all these decades); there was outrage over Simon Cowell's supposed "flipping off" of Paula Abdul...the list goes on. I just don't get it.

For all the hoopla over this incident, I have yet to hear anyone bring up the point that came immediately to my cynical mind: the Jackson family are pros at garnering media attention when they want it. This was simply a publicity stunt for Jackson's new CD, and an extremely effective one at that. Janet Jackson - who has faded from public view in recent years - got more exposure (again, no pun intended) from this incident than she could have with any other promotional campaign. The sad part is, Janet Jackson is the only truly talented Jackson and didn't need to resort to anything so cheaply desperate - her music can stand on its own.

The incident was silly and cheap, but lewd? Hardly. Considering Jackson's nipple was covered with what I can only describe as some sort of torture device, we saw less breast than we see on any typical reality show. So why do I rarely hear any indignant outrage over reality TV's body part exposures? I keep hearing about concern for the children. I guess the thinking is that the sight of Jackson's breast is somehow going to warp our children's minds and damage them - how, I don't know. I mean, what is the big frigging deal about women's breasts?!?! They're body parts, for heaven's sake, and every single woman on earth has 'em, front and center. They're used to feed babies. Men like them. Why are they considered so filthy that the sight of them causes such outrage? Because they're used to feed babies and men like them? What kind of sick, twisted thinking is that?

What's happening to our world? Why the sudden rush to "clean up" television? TV has already been cleaned up to the point of being boring. In fact, even before the Jackson-Timberlake boob incident, television was more sanitized than it had ever been. Now we're subjected to delayed broadcasts and an alarming increase in the digitization of (usually) body parts deemed "inappropriate" for television. What's next? Homosexual stories will be banned? All middle fingers will be cut off? Women's breasts will be taped down? The only interjections that can be used will be "gosh" and "golly"? Navels will be covered up? All married TV characters will sleep in twin beds? We're going backwards here!

I've said it again and again and again: television cannot warp anyone's mind. It can influence, yes (too much at times), but it cannot turn a healthy law-abiding citizen into a knife-wielding rapist because they saw a - gasp! - breast on TV. If we're going to be indignantly outraged over anything, it should be the increasing censorship we're allowing ourselves to be subjected to and not the sight of some entertainer's body part. 
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