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February 06, 2005
It's Not the Offensiveness, Stupid
The usually perceptive Mickey Kaus completely misunderstands what he calls "Nipplegate," aka the brohaha over last year's Super Bowl half time show (Janet, Justin and Michael Powell). Kaus writes that the real problem is not prudishness but offensiveness (It's Not the Nipple, Stupid!):
It's Not the Nipple: A Super Sunday reminder to Frank Rich and other righteous anti-FCCers: The big problem with last year's Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake halftime show was not that people saw Jackson's breast. It wasn't what Jackson did that was offensive. It was what Timberlake did. Here was a massively popular, relatively hip singer whose message was that it was a hip, transgressive thing for men to rip clothes off women when they feel like it (which is quite often). I watched the game with a group of non-evangelical, non-moralistic dads who were uniformly horrified. The problem for them wasn't sex--their kids see flesh all the time in videos--but a form of sexism, not prudery but piggishness. Surely there are some types of behavior--homophobia, perhaps, or racism, or Republicanism--that even Frank Rich wouldn't want implicitly endorsed during a telecast watched by most of the country's teens and pre-teens. Yet the press has effectively recast this complicated issue as an uncomplicated case of "Nipple-gate," of blue-noses overreacting to the sight of a breast. No wonder red staters respond negatively when New Yorkers call them simplistic. [emphasis, link in original]
The whole damn half time show last year was in extremely poor taste, capped off with Justin and Janet's offensive behavior (I didn't notice Miss Jackson reprimanding Mr. Timberlake). However, that is not what gets this righteous anti-FCCer upset. Of course, the show was offensive. Let the nation ring with outcries against its offensiveness. Let people boycott the network that broadcast, let them stop buying the products of the shows advertisers, whatever rocks their boat.
However, don't let the government get to decide what is offensive and what is not offensive and fine the heck out of speech they don't like.
It's not the offensiveness, it's the censorship, stupid.
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