Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

In the sci-fi spoof section of Woody Allen’s anthology comedy “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask,” a giant female breast brazenly terrorizes a suburban countryside. It can be captured only by half of a giant bra.
Something like that is happening now, isn’t it? Maybe Janet Jackson’s breast doesn’t qualify as “giant” but it certainly qualifies as “breast” and we assume it, or most of it, to be organically Janet Jackson’s. Yes, repercussions from that infamous incident at this year’s Super Bowl continue to, uh, repercuss. And while normally we wouldn’t touch this one with a 10-foot pole, we have to report on the repercussions.
You say we become a repercussion by responding to repercussions? Well, maybe so, but we haven’t even mentioned ramifications, which one naturally assumes are wide-ranging and even worse than repercussions. But let’s get back to the breast at hand and join in the cheap jokes TV commentators are making about “mountains out of molehills” and such.
Naturally one doesn’t know whom to believe-the CBS Television Network, which expressed shock and alarm, or the NFL, which expressed alarm and shock, or pop star Justin Timberlake, the man who ripped away a piece of leather and thereby revealed Jackson’s breast (which now, like Abraham Lincoln, “belongs to the ages”). Timberlake was shocked, alarmed, appalled, whatever, and maintains that when he tastefully tore away part of Ms. Jackson’s costume in a tasteful rape-like gesture, only red lingerie and not an actual breast was supposed to appear.
Where were the radical feminist groups demanding that in return, Mr. Timberlake be required to reveal one testicle? There don’t seem to be radical feminist groups anymore. Couldn’t they have had a field day with Janet Jackson’s breast? Maybe not. It’s such a sordid affair that we hate even to mention it, but of course there are those ramifications and repercussions to think about. My friends, we’ve got trouble, right here in River City, and that starts with “T” and that stands for-why, Television, of course. The boob tube (oh dear, can’t call it that for a while).
An orgy of mad overkill is under way to sanitize the airwaves in the wake of the outrage and remove anything that might give offense in the wake of Ms. Jackson’s unveiling and the brow-furrowing moral questions it raises. You’d think that these questions would already have occurred a million times to anybody who’s watched prime-time television in the past 25 years or so and seen how low it will stoop to sell ad time-or to anybody who has ever glimpsed even, say, five minutes of MTV, Viacom’s living monument to pubescence, prurience and teenagers empowered with disposable income.
(In fact, the incident was offensive, because the Super Bowl ought to be one last sanctuary for true family viewing, and because the act seems cynically riddled with hypocrisy. Unfortunately, all the attention directed to the peep show meant that all those smutty, smug and sleazy Bud Light ads got off without a peep of protest).
Now, because of one breast, we may never see “live” TV again, or so pundits predict. No live TV except maybe the local news, although who knows when some male anchor might reach over and unbutton his female co-anchor’s blouse to boost some sagging numbers. A simple question about a “cold front” could have unfortunate consequences. “Say, Jerry, how about those Blue Jays?” Jerry, ripping open her top: “Never mind the Blue Jays, baby!”
In that beloved best seller “Live from New York,” the late Dave Wilson, who directed “Saturday Night Live” for 20 years, said that for all the times he heard that a five- or 10-second delay had been imposed because of fears over controversial comic material making it onto the airwaves, he didn’t think anybody ever really got the delay to work. And when they really needed it (Sinead O’Connor, Martin Lawrence, et al.), it wasn’t even hooked up.
CBS promised no less than a five-minute delay for the always-smutty Grammy Awards Sunday, and at press time we have no idea how that went. A much safer course would have been to cancel the Grammys altogether, but we can’t have a profit loss like that on the books, can we?
Meanwhile, reports ricochet about “last-minute” editing on potentially offensive material already in the can. Should, for example, Almay be allowed to continue marketing a beauty cream called “Nearly Naked” with such teases as “Go naked-almost”?!? Good heavens, it’s Sodom and Gomorrah all over again, or Gomorrah at least. But then maybe navels in oranges will have to be electronically erased too, not to mention all those spots for denture adhesives that feature active grandpas whose nipples are clearly visible through their Ban-Lon shirts.
That whole episode of “Seinfeld” about the invention of the man-siere, or as some prefer to call it, “the bro,” will have to pulled out of recyclement and locked away. But that’s not the worst of it. In the long and for the most part wholesome history of the “Lassie” series, there was at least one episode in which the fabled collie gave birth to a litter of puppies, who then proceeded to nurse eagerly while Lassie lay maternally on the floor of the barn.
Puppies? Out! Nursing? Out! Come to think of it-barn out, birth out and “Lassie” out, too! Lassie was played in most scenes by a male dog anyway, making her nothing more than a deceiving transvestite!
Every once in a while, after all, this country has to go nuts. Usually it’s Election Day. But sometimes it’s just whenever. And when that happens, then we-hey, wait a minute. I just thought of something. In truth, I’ve thought of it before but I didn’t want to mention it. Now seems the time: Just what the hell kind of name is Beaver for a kid, anyway?!