Thursday, February 03, 2005

Writing the Book on How to Get Off the Hook

Last year I was watching TV with my mom. There were chips and dips and soda pop beverages. It was a big game, but hey, I don’t even remember who was playing. At half-time Mom got up and moved over to the computer to play some Free Cell and I stayed put to see who made it to the half-time show. Not that Mom would have been shocked to see it, but she didn’t miss much. Just a boob.

As Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake frolicked and wiggled and wailed their way through their number, I was only mildly entertained. I like Janet. I think she’s got some family issues, but hey, so do I. (Though not like hers.) I like Janet’s music. When I was thirteen I tried to memorize all the dance steps to every video released for Rhythm Nation. Janet is the cool Jackson.

It’s Justin Timberlake that I don’t like. The guy gives me the creeps. I’ve got plenty of girlfriends who find him sexy. Somehow. I don’t understand it. I still see him as the kid with the bad perm from ‘N Sync, so he holds little to no sex appeal for me. And I also think of him as the guy who kissed and told on Britney Spears just to further his own career. I know there were reports that she cheated on him, and yes, Britney clearly has some Cheeto issues to deal with, but here’s the thing – while Britney may not be all that smart, Justin is a creep. Total creep. They guy went public with the fact that he had taken Ms. Spear’s virginity after they split up as a PUBLICITY STUNT. On radio talk shows, and in the tabloids, to anyone who would listen, he smirked and made it clear that Spears was post-virginal. And that’s just crass. And classless. And gross. It should have been kept private. If any guy in my life or any of my girlfriends’ lives had been hollering all over school or the Peach Pit or wherever that he had been boning so-and-so, he would have been given the icy cold shoulder by the lot of the female contingent. It would have been like “good luck getting laid again, big mouth!” Instead, the media went wild for the story, and the public ate it all up, and the next thing you know Justin is all Mr. Smooth and Sweet, and his solo CD is selling like hotcakes and his grandmother is defending the size of his member. Dear, sweet, lord. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

What is he made of – TEFLON?

So it’s now been a year since boob-gate, or nipple-gate, or the end, as we know it, of Janet Jackson’s career. The roar of common decency has been heard ‘round the world. The fines have been handed down. We now live in the era of the five-second delay and the fear of family values groups’ moral outrage causes television affiliates to pull films like “Saving Private Ryan” from their schedules. But what was everyone so upset about? An itty bitty flash of a boob. Janet’s boob. So of course, Janet must be entirely to blame. Riiiiiiiggghhhht.

Yeah, I’m still as upset by this misguided notion one year later as I was the day after the wardrobe malfunction. You know what really happened at the Super Bowl halftime? A staged and planned sexual assault.

Let’s assume that the story both Justin and Janet told afterwards was true: that they planned and rehearsed a routine at the end of which Justin reached over and removed a covering of Janet’s costume to reveal a lacy brassiere, and that Janet alone decided to forego the brassiere and reveal the boob with bejewelled nipple at the last minute, leaving Justin unaware.

That still means that the two of them planned and rehearsed a routine at the end of which Justin would reach across Janet’s body and brutally grab a hold of her clothes and physically rip them off of her while singing “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song.” It looked a lot like assault to me. I’ll grant you that both of them agreed to it – which was dumb. I’m not saying that she is any less responsible than him, because clearly, it was not a smart decision on either of their parts. I mean, did they even think for two seconds what that would look like to the millions of people watching? What kind of behaviour it would look like they were condoning? Have you seen the look on his face in the still shots as he performed? That’s not innocence. That’s not professionalism. And it doesn’t look like shock either. It was lecherous desire.

Unfortunately, the millions of people watching the halftime show seemed to miss that point entirely, settling instead for the point of view that “boobs on tv are bad” and “please, won’t somebody think of the children?” Instead of a discussion about how it was a bad decision to portray a sexual situation with violent overtones, we got the condemnation of Janet for the simple fact that she 1) had boobs and 2) decided to show one of them on tv. Hey – every woman has boobs. And you know what, Janet’s boob was a pretty nice one. But I fail to see how the condemnation of Janet was relevant. Or constructive.

Because TEFLON-boy seemed to get off Scot-free again! With a doleful “I’m sorry,” and a quick reference to how he was upset because his grandmother had been watching, Timberlake was again restored to his status of Golden Boy. While Janet, well, we know what happened to poor Janet. How many times does this guy have to drag a woman’s reputation through the mud before we see him for what he really is? And how many times can he rely on good ol’ grandma to save him from his bad behaviour? Because, really, that strategy makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And not in a good way.

Even though there was only one boob shown up on stage, there were still two people present. And two people made the decision to stage an act of male sexual aggression upon a female. And instead of realizing that THAT is the real problem, the female was vilified for showing off her sexual organ and the male just got to shrug and get let off the hook. It's akin to using the excuse of "hey man, she was asking for it by looking so sexy. I'm a male, I have impulses I can't control" and it makes me SICK! Last year’s Super Bowl Halftime show was a glaring example of sexual inequality. And I shake my head in dismay to think that all anyone saw was a boob.

3 Comments:

Blogger ejdl said...

I am with on thinking it's ridiculous to make such a fuss over the human body. It makes me proud to be Canadian, well specifically Ontarian, where it's legally if not socially kosher for a woman to show BOTH BREASTS AT ONCE! Imagine that. :)

I'm not entirely convinced, however, that the outrage that swelled after the boob-flash was specifically because the anatomy shown was female. This FCC mentality is equally prudish about Randy Moss bending over in the end zone. I still don't get the big deal there. Those dudes are just uptight.

It is totally unfair, however, that Janet's demi-topless gamble failed to pay off. The only (possibly) valid comparison would be some saucy young buck deciding to reveal a chiselled buttock in a video or TV appearance. He might get formally spanked (so to speak) but the public would never hold a grudge, especially if his butt was nice.

I'm torn on the JT angle. I think Britney has been crucified for being sexual and female. I think Senorita is impossibly catchy. I dislike the fact that he was complicit in a high-profile incident that wound up degrading a woman. I dislike more the thought that we feel disempowered by his clearly inappropriate behaviour.

And yes, Janet is still way cool. Love her. Rhythm Nation dancers as a group Halloween costume, anyone? :)

9:05 AM  
Blogger kalisekj said...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Connor Wilson said...

Every year my son Dylan and I have been building our Halloween animatronic display. This year we added 12 new figures and my wife had been making the clothes etc. but then I clued in that Halloween Costumes were the ideal solution - ya, ok I'm slow but...This year is really cool because we've done an HP Lovecraft display that I'm sure he'd appreciate but I'm not so sure he'd approve of this - The Necronomicon - Is it just me or is that just plain goofy ? Anyway, everybody is doing their own Haunted House thing now but hey - it's fun and if you've got kids I really suggest you try it yourself if you haven't already. It's a nice change from the usual Christmas Lights routine and a lot of scaaarrry fun. Happy Halloween everybody.

7:46 AM  

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