Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Jackson apologizes for Super Bowl stunt

In the interest of research, I tried to interview a four-year-old boy about breasts. He was a tough nut to crack. First, he sang words that rhyme with breast. Some real. Some not. (We play word games sometimes.) Then he hung upside down from a chair and made faces. Just when I thought he might be about to express his outrage about the pictures of Janet Jackson's boob he had seen, he grabbed my iPod and I had to chase him around the room several times to get it back. So, I have no tearful remonstrations by a victim to report.

Meanwhile, Jackson has admitted there was a plan to expose her red underwear at the end of the steamy song she sang with Justin Timberlake.

In a statement released Monday night, Jackson apologized and said it was a last-minute stunt that went awry.

"The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it," she said. "It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended -- including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL."

Jackson's official Web site was bombarded with angry postings. Her spokeswoman, Jennifer Holiner, said a red lace garment was supposed to remain when Timberlake tore off the outer covering.

The most unattractive man in America, Michael Powell, is still claiming to be shocked (yes, shocked!) by the event. Unfortunately, Powell heads the Federal Communications Commission.

Powell promised an investigation, with potential fines of up to $27,500. If applied to each CBS station, the fine could reach the millions.

In response to multiple phone calls from the public, acting Houston police chief Joe Breshears reiterated that no criminal charges would be filed.

Despite the apparent premeditation -- the display coincided exactly with Timberlake singing, "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song" -- all involved denied that the peep show was planned.

"This was done completely without our knowledge," said Chris Ender, entertainment spokesman for CBS, which was deluged with angry calls. "It wasn't rehearsed. It wasn't discussed. It wasn't even hinted at... This is something we would have never approved. We are angry and embarrassed."

An examination of the FCC rules suggests the conduct may not violate them.

Over-the-air TV channels cannot air "obscene" material at any time and cannot air "indecent" material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The FCC defines obscene as describing sexual conduct "in a patently offensive way" and lacking "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." Indecent material is not as offensive but still contains references to sex or excretions.

Furthermore, in the past, the FCC has saved severe fines for premeditated acts that explicitly break the rules. This one or two second event, that most viewers did not see clearly, is hardly that.

On Monday's Nightline, veteran newsman Ted Kopple observed that more people watched the exposure on TiVo and the Internet than caught the real thing. Doesn't that suggest that at least some of the folks cavailing about the behavior sought it out?

And, let's not let Powell off the hook. Michael Powell has plans, I suspect. Po-lit-i-cal plans. Just like the other parties in the saga is he out to exploit it. Here's an opportunity for him to reap name recognition the head of the FCC doesn't usually get. And, since ole lipless has been an unpopular FCC chairman, he will play this to the hilt.

At this juncture, I think there is enough blame to go around - including Jackson, Timberlake, MTV, CBS and the NFL itself, which does its share to encourage vulgarity. I still believe the entire episode has been blown out of proportion.

Note: This entry also appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies


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