Nipplegate, a year later
: So it has been a year since Janet Jackson sort-of exposed her breast amid the blood, sweat, and erectile dysfunction of the Super Bowl. We act as if the nation changed that day but, of course, it didn’t. We’re the same America we were before the malfunction. We still like sex. We still have a sense of humor. We still have a First Amendment (I think).
What changed, instead, was media’s treatment of media and the nation. The religious right saw an opening for the last gasp of Puritanism in America and media helped them by making gross oversimplifications and gross overstatements of the meaning of nipplegate and the election and that stupid poll that asked people whether moral values matter. Media jumped on the story as if, overnight, we turned into a nation of prigs and prudes.
So in the year since the malfunction, we’ve seen fines multiply like pornographic bunnies. We’ve seen Brent Bozell and his so-called Parents Television Council doggedly pursue every use of the words “hell,” “ass,” and “dick.” We’ve seen the FCC and Michael Powell lose all self-respect as they become our national nannies. We’ve seen Congress rushing to pass indecent indecency bills aimed at bankrupting anybody — including you — who dares to utter the F word because they’re more scared of voting for porn than voting for the Constitution. We’ve seen broadcasters buckle like a wet witch in the Wizard of Oz as they pixelate cartoon butts and treat gays as offensive (when, not very long ago, bigotry was more offensive). We’ve seen the leading star of radio abandon it.
And today we’re sure to see the dullest Super Bowl commercials and half-time show in history.
This wasn’t mass hysteria that did this. This was mass-media stupidity.
The only hope is that in this year, it finally has gone too far and, at last — without or without the help of broadcasters wimpering in puddles — the courts will stand up against the prigs and pols and pundits and stand up for the First Amendment.
: See also Frank Rich on the Year of Living Indecently:
That our government is now both intimidating PBS and awarding public money to pundits to enforce “moral values” agendas demonizing certain families is the ugliest fallout of the campaign against indecency. That campaign cannot really banish salaciousness from pop culture, a rank impossibility in a market economy where red and blue customers are united in their infatuation with “Desperate Housewives.” But it can create public policy that discriminates against anyone on the hit list of moral values zealots.
: This will be the subject of a CBS Sunday Morning segment today; they interviewed me, Bozell, Sen. Sam Brownback, and Opie & Anthony. I won’t be able to see it since I’ll be out.
: The National Association of Broadcasters finally spoke out against the indecency witchhunt but from the supid perspective, saying it’s just not fair that they get censored and cable doesn’t. The upshot of that could be, of course, that everybody gets censored. What the NAB should be doing instead is defending the First Amendment. They should be giving Congress reason to vote against the indecent indecency bill … instead of expanding it.
: LATER: Remember how America was dying for a network with nothing but wholesome programming? Well, Pax is dying. So much for that. Back to Desperate Housewives!
: HELLO SUNDAY MORNING VIEWS: For more (for too much) on this, here’s a link to my more recent posts on the topic.
The reviews are in.