Crossing the breast line

Crossing the breast line
: The one area where Europe beats America is breasts. Europe admits they exist. So you see them on billboards, on TV, in parks. No big. Just breasts. So Janet Jackson shows one on TV… kinda. It was covered/adorned with a steel-tipped pastie that made it look, in Howard Stern’s description, like a Christimas-tree ornament. (Later, he said it looked like a football.) No big. Just a breast. Time for us to grow up and not get our thongs in a twist over this. Oh, there’ll be a 48-hour furor but it’s hypocritical as hell in a show that pushed no end of chemical cures for erectile dysfunction. What’s so wrong with showing the organic cure?

: Adam Curry says get over it.

: Tom Shales huffs.

: UPDATE: Correspondent Tim Windsor says the MTV press release about Jackson’s “shocking” performance has been disappeared from the TV site. But it’s cached on Google.

: UPDATE II: Michele gets off her sickbed to shout at America: It was just a breast!

  • sdc

    And we all know we should “aspire” to be more European! Next time I would appreciate a warning when the “content is unsuitable for children”…but I suppose now I do know…half-time shows are for adults only…

  • JP

    Granted, I am European. But since when are breasts unsuitable for children. Don’t American Children get breast-fed anymore at all?….Why do I hear Marlon Brando’s voice all of a sudden: “the horror….the horror”

  • Cobber

    Super Bowl halftime shows have been growing steadily more worthless for years. Face it–the intent of the incident was not to be avant garde, but to shock. This was the MTV equivalent of the kid who flips the bird at the dinner table to tittilate his siblings and to shock his uncool parents. The sad thing is that the supposed adults at Viacom and CBS apparently shared this juvenile attitude and let it go forward.

  • rwd

    Crossing the breast line? For a second I thought you were talking about this:

  • I’m just tired of the Jacksons inflicting their grotesque psychodrama on the world and monopolizing mental space that should be devoted to more useful things like that streaker before the third quarter. Or erectile dysfunction medication. Or rocking the vote.

  • Dar

    I am shocked–shocked!–I tell you! How am I supposed to enjoy my normal TV fare of murder, bloody fistfights, morons eating lambs’ eyes and live bugs for money, double-crossing transvestite lovers and the midgets who love them, car chases and car wrecks when they’re showing a breast on TV? Do your kids a favor and let them play “Mortal Kombat” or “Grand Theft Auto” instead of letting them watch the Super Bowl next year! Time to “nip” the moral corruption of America in the bud!

  • John

    Since CBS and MTV are both owned by the same company, Viacom, it comes off as just a little disingenuious for the CBS execs to be shocked — Shocked! — that they were deceived in such a way. Of course, since many of these same performers will be appearing in three days on the Grammy Awards, also to be broadcast by CBS, there couldn’t be any sort of attempt to hype the ratings for that by doing this could there?
    Personally, I think Viacom would show Dora the Explorer’s muff on Nick Jr. if they thought they could get a few extra ratings points out of it. But maybe the executives with CBS and MTV really didn’t talk to each other before the most watched television event of the year and CBS really was the innocent victim in all this.

  • anne.elk

    Presumably parents that don’t want their kids reading the “f” word and so use code phrases on their blogs like “f’ng” may not wish their kids to see a breast on the TV.

  • Leland

    I’m with Cobber. If there was nothing wrong with it, and we should grow up and learn to be European and except breasts, why not show the ta-ta’s for the entire half-time?
    And for that matter, they couldn’t get the side-line camera to take any pictures of the cheerleaders from a height that would show any cleavage. Instead all we saw were an orthodontist’s worst nightmare from the angle of a midget.
    The line up of half-time entertainers were for fans 10 – 18. Are there really a large number of adult football fans that want to hear Justin Timberlake? Watch Kid Rock wear a ripped US flag, and whoever that was masturbating his crotch during the performance? The pre-game I thought was much better both in talent and maturity. We each have our own taste, but don’t suggest others need to grow-up if you really do enjoy listening to Justin.

  • A nipple is exposed. America reacts. And holds grimly on to its Puritan heritage.
    Meanwhile, graphic displays of every conceivable means of murder are completely appropriate on network television.

  • Jack Tanner

    Where’s the clicker? Did anyone expect the halftime show to be anything other than the vaccuous celebrity exhibitionism that it was? Is it really worth getting worked up about?

  • All I can say is, “that weren’t no pastie.”

  • Ebb Tide

    And to think I FF’ed the ENTIRE half time, I missed the whole thing… but the Google cache does say that it was going to be “shocking” so I guess they knew what was going to happen.
    Oh well, the game was exciting enough at the end, so maybe people will forget about being shocked by the half-time show and instead be glad the game was worth watching.

  • Dar

    Somebody should tell Janet it’s past time to take down the Christmas decorations. That includes the mistletoe in her navel ring.

  • Jim

    Europe also “beats” America in anti-Semitism. Should we be more like Europe there, too?
    I listened to the game on the radio. Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason were marginally less disgusting than Janet Jackson, I suppose.

  • SM

    Hey Jeff & JP, If breast exposure is so innocent why aren’t European women walking around topless everywhere? Do women over there teach elementary school topless? It’s just a natural thing, no? A breast on a billboard is a picture. It’s really only about pictures that Europeans can assert “sophistication”. Excepting some beaches they still hide the real thing most of time though. Why?

  • cardeblu

    JJ shows a boob: Yawn.
    MTV “tries” to shock (again): Yawn.
    Puritanical Americans are outraged: Yawn.
    Europeans scoff at the US audience reaction: Yawn.
    Others say showing boobs on TV is better than showing violence: Yawn.
    The Superbowl game was actually pretty good: Wow!!

  • Benny

    Excepting some beaches they still hide the real thing most of time though. Why?
    Dude, have you ever even been to Europe?

  • Good point, cardeblu!

  • Percy Dovetonsils

    This never would have happened if they had just stuck with “Up With People” – now there were some wholesome young’uns.
    Why does the Super Bowl try to have contemporary music acts, anyway? The “kids” roll their eyes at it (yes, I remember being one of the “kids”) and the adults have no interest.

  • Anonymous

    It was a piercing.

  • SM

    Benny, Again, if the exposed breast is so innocently natural why aren’t most women in Europe teaching school, chairing executive meetings, driving buses, being receptionists, doing medical research, shopping, washing their cars, and strolling the streets etc. topless all summer long? If your quibble is about beaches – fine. Answer the rest.

  • Reid

    The issue is not what anyone here thinks anyone else should or should not be shocked at. The issue here is that it was done with no warning to those who might take exception.
    It is justly said that, if you do not want to see something, you should just change the channel. But, doesn’t that in some way obligate the networks to let you know what you are in for first?
    I don’t care if JJ wants to display her moldy privates to the world. I just want to be forwarned so I can avert my gaze (there was a time I never would have said that about JJ – that time has passed). This was the equivalent of a flasher in a public park jumping in front of some unsuspecting family and bearing it all. “Look at me!” Thank you, but, no thanks.

  • Nina

    And why is CBS so huffy all of a sudden? Those of us who managed to stay awake for the SURVIVOR REUNION had scads of times to watch Richard Hatch’s digitalized privates blowing in the breeze…and I suspect there’ll be more of that CBS-sanctioned action in subsequent episodes.

  • Phooey on Janet Jackson. Didn’t she pose for Playboy a while ago, like 15 or whatever years ago?
    Real MEN everywhere – and certainly not Europe – adore big breasts. I know I do.
    Raven de La Croix!
    Christy Canyon!
    et al!
    dare I say it: Monica Lewinsky!
    Death to skinny broads with little boy chests!

  • Lileks

    I too am dismayed by the puritannical reactions – for heaven’s sake, it’s the human body. So a line was crossed – that’s what lines are for, sowe can move on, and grow, and learn to roll our eyes at those people whose “standards” keep us all in the dark ages.
    If we don’t see on the Jumbotron by 2010, I’ll know we’ve truly entered a dark age of repression.

  • What dismays me isn’t the “puritannical reactions” to which Mr. Lileks sarcastically refers. It’s the cowardly refusal to own your actions, especially when you *knew* they would be outrageous. Timberlake’s claim of a “wardrobe malfunction” is a transparent lie that makes him look even more Pasty White Bread than he already does.
    And speaking of Pasties (or piercings, or whatever that was), why hasn’t Ms. Jackson had a peep to say about this? Probably still traumatized by the event…
    The game was great, but everything surrounding it said Stupid Bowl.

  • Franky

    Well I’m glad that there is one – and only one, it seems – area where America acknowledges European superiority. In these times, I thought it was very magnaminous of you to admit to even one small area where the Europeans may be ahead.
    But I’m glad to see that we all came to our senses in this forum and quickly brought up again that Europe is a seething calderon of anti-semitism, because as so many American-based writers have astutely noted all Europeans do from Portugal to Finland, from Ireland to the Ukraine, is talk about how much they hate jews. And if no one else sees the connection between Janet Jackson’s breasts and European anti-semitism, I’ll be glad to point it out.

  • chris b

    I wish I had subscribed to the lingerie bowl so I wouldn’t have had to see such smut during halftime. GWB should appoint Tipper Gore to chair an investigatory commission on this.

  • tito

    Okay Franky, call me a sucker, but I’ll nip at this one. Clue me in and give me a peek at the connection between Janet Jackson’s breasts and European anti-semitism. Just a taste. If only because otherwise, I would see an enormous cleavage between the two. I think you’re milking it.

  • Franky

    Tito, my man, you caught me out. I can’t for the life of me see any connection. But it just goes to show that some people can’t even see Janet Jackson’s breats and not get hsterical/moral superior about something.
    Just one further postscript to this entertaining story of the day (does anyone think this story is lasting for another 12 hours?), Drudge has this headline: “OUTRAGE AT CBS AFTER JANET BARES BREAST DURING DINNER HOUR; SUPER BOWL SHOW PUSHES LIMITS”. Am I the only one who thought that the “dinner hour” meant that the media shouldn’t show things of a particularly gruesome nature. So in Drudge’s mind, he sees the female breast as a disgusting thing, that could put someone off their dinner. Has Drudge just subconciously confirmed the rumours of his homosexuality to millions, possibly marking the first such occassion in blog history?

  • MD

    I watched the half-time show with my mom – a rather traditional Indian lady. She was a bit unsettled. Not the standard to see pierced nipples on Indian television. So I guess the land of the Kamasutra is just as puritanical as the land of the, um, puritans?
    Anyway, could the halftime show be anymore lame? Nipple or no?

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Well no, the “dinner hour” just happens to be before the “safe harbor” time past 10 o’clock when more provactive material usually is shown on network tv. I’ve heard the “dinner hour” term used a lot to describe the more PG time of netowrk programming. In fact the posters that mention murder and dismemberment is shown on network TV might notice it is mostly shown post 10 o’clock (or at least post 9).
    There are other people in the audience besides progressive minded social liberal adults at earlier hours, I think is the reasoning.

  • You all are missing the big picture here:

  • It’s not the breast baring finale that should get MTV banned from future Super Bowls — it’s the fact that they put on an absolutely wretched halftime show. They’d have been better off just sticking with the University of Houston marching band. The rest of the show was the usual crass blend of very bad technodance, rap, and boy band pop combined with sexually charged choreography — in other words, standard MTV fare. Why in the hell would the NFL want these guys putting on the Super Bowl halftime show in the first place?

  • syn

    When The Dick finally comes out of hiding then I will be willing to “grow-up”, come on, guys why are you so afraid to show your “nature”
    Why was Janet wearing pasties under her clothes?
    I love watching how the entertainment industry turns people into SUCKERS.

  • tom

    The PR may be gone, but they still have a “statement” up here.

  • Mark

    If being European means yawning at the site of an exposed breast, count me out. There’s a time and place for its exposure. Topless beaches are another European thing that we need to stay away from, and not for prudish reasons.

  • Why

    Mark, would you clarify your comments please? Why do we need to stay away from topless beaches?

  • Frank

    I think both the Americans and we the British should stay away from beaches until we stop being the fattest and second fattest countries in the world (I’m pretty sure on figures, I know we’re the fattest in Europe, and pretty sure US is number one). Large may be attractive to some (not something I share, but I understand it), but the way we’ve become obese on these fatty foods is definitely not sexy. Check out the different types of fatness of someone who basically eats healthily, but too much and compare with someone who’s stuffing their face with McDonalds and Doritos. Unfortunately, both our countries slant to the second rather than the first.

  • chris b

    Everything in the US is low-fat—except the people.

  • Puce

    USFlabies eates Fud as saprbol JUSTANGAY

  • Joe Peden

    Two reactions.
    First the early one: the whole Half-time show was directed at imbeciles, yet in this sick way was extremely hilarious, leading to a feeling of a dismayed superiority
    Then the delayed one: Janet Jackson did to any number of people what her brother is charged with. Sexual Abuse, leading to a grinding anger and desire for retribution.

  • What’s really hilarious are all the people getting upset over the people getting upset. With predictable alacrity we hear the squeals of “Aaagh! Puritanical Americans!” — as if the worst thing in the world was not being able to have T&A in your face 24/7. It’s the sex-maniacs and nudie-nuts who have made sex boring, from over-(excuse the pun) exposure. If you had to eat your favorite food every single minute of the day you’d get sick of it too, and complain at the sight of yet another plateful.
    By the way, the reason nude and topless beaches are not exactly the Hefneresque dream-landscapes they are made out to be is the fact that most people who patronise such places are not toned and tucked models but ordinary, out-of-shape people who look ludicrous, if not downright ugly, without clothes. Men, with your pathetic little buttettes and hanging hairy bellies, please for the love of Dionysis cover up; and women — your skinny shanks, saggy dugs, and rippling cellulite are not exactly evocative of “nature is beautiful” sentiments. I come from Florida, I know of what I speak. I’ve also been to beaches in Europe. I was not impressed, but then a strip of grey muddy sand adorned by a few shivering, goose-pimpled, underfed-looking diehards (no pun intended but if you see it there well…) didn’t exactly make me think of the superiority of European culture to American or anything but “damn it’s effing cold can I go back to the hotel now?”

  • Other Reid

    Andrea – ROFL.

  • “it’s hypocritical as hell in a show that pushed no end of chemical cures for erectile dysfunction. What’s so wrong with showing the organic cure?”
    Leno just made a joke that’s exactly like this, Jeff :-)

  • Joe Peden

    “it’s hypocritical as hell in a show that pushed no end of chemical cures for erectile dysfunction. What’s so wrong with showing the organic cure?”
    Leno just made a joke that’s exactly like this, Jeff :-)
    Posted by Matthew Stinson at February 2, 2004 11:52 PM
    Yep, that’s a funny. At least while delivering the “cure” to his victims, brother Michael claims to have kept his underpants on. There appears to be something familial going on here. Did the stupid broad, Janet, consider the relationship of her act to Michael’s case?
    And do children, and anyone else not expecting or needing it, require this “organic cure”, which is BTW, probably not organic?
    This act was a form of sexual abuse, or harrassment, or violence. But, we let dem off de hook. Why? Because, we stupid.

  • Angus Jung


  • Pele

    (.) (.)

  • breastmaven

    no way. like this:
    (@ )( @)

  • Benny

    In fact the posters that mention murder and dismemberment is shown on network TV might notice it is mostly shown post 10 o’clock (or at least post 9).
    There are other people in the audience besides progressive minded social liberal adults at earlier hours, I think is the reasoning.

    This is a very fair statement. However, let’s face it, you do do see people killed on TV at all hours of day, perhaps just not as explicitly. I’m not arguing that this causes more violence in society necessarily. Just that it’s hypocritical of our society to OK depictions of murder with great regularity, but not nudity.
    Having said that, was the moment tacky? Of course. Was it cause for moral outrage? Of course not.
    Jeez. In the country I grew up in, they showed nudity on the evening news. Back in the ’80s!

  • Well, do we have to change the phrase from “Getting your panties in a twist” to “getting your boob in a twist.” Much ado about not much (not quite nothing).
    One thought occurs to me though. Most of the “entertainment” industry is considered ultra-liberal or leftist, not without reason. Most of those folk decry the lack of appreciation for multiculturalism and tolerance. But, it seems that they are intolerant of others reaction to the “exposure” and didn’t take into account that part of culture is religious belief and practice and that they should have known that this would cause a controversy. Jackson & company did say there would be something shocking to see at the half time show. How come tolerance isn’t practiced by those that shout out about intolerance the most – those on the left about the right? I guess hypocrisy is on both sides of the isle. It really does depend on whose ox is being gored doesn