Thursday, January 06, 2005

COLUMN: Nipple

I'm a sucker for end-of-the-year wrap-ups. Every aspiring journalist within 50 feet of a word processor falls for it -- the opportunity to write a few brief paragraphs in a feeble attempt to sum up the past twelve months of humankind's existence. Well, this year, I've noticed a trend. In reading these wrap-ups, it becomes painfully obvious what the most critical news story of the year has been.

Iraq's a mess. The election was a headache. And yes, according to one of our own columnists, global warming turns out to be a huge myth. Now, while I know some endangered coral reefs who might want to have a little chat with that columnist, it turns out its all quite irrelevant.

Yes, there's only one story that's invariably turned up in every single year-end wrap-up that I've read. I'm speaking, of course, of the titanic debacle of Janet Jackson's right nipple (otherwise known as "The 1.4 Seconds That Rocked Our World.")

Unless you live under a rock, you know what happened. Miss Jackson (if you're nasty) chose a rather inopportune time to showcase the latest in nipular jewelry -- smack at the end of the MTV-produced halftime show at last year's Super Bowl. And, from what I understand, a few people (hereafter known as "the red states") threw a full-on hissy fit, causing the FCC to have a collective stroke, "moral values" to become a campaign hot button, and faster than you can say "wardrobe malfunction," Bush wins the election. That must've been one mighty nipple.

I wouldn't know, because I, like approximately 50% of those watching the Super Bowl halftime show at the time, was busy blinking my eyes. That's how long it lasted. It was, in fact, just long enough for me and my friend Jason to go, "Hey, is that her...?" And presto, we're in commercial break.

Were any of you honestly offended by that? Could any of you honestly focus your eyes on it before the cameras quickly panned away? Could that 1.4 seconds of immorality have actually had an adverse reaction to you or your loved ones?

People are complaining that the Super Bowl is family entertainment and should thus be free of immorality. Yes, the Super Bowl should be revered for the wholesome entertainment it is -- I especially like the wholesome bits when a player's knee gets bent in half by bloodied, snarling opponents jumping on top of him.

Face it, football is a grisly game. How can you say that Janet's display was any more immoral than watching one guy give another guy a concussion? People have been KILLED playing football... but, admittedly and thankfully, none of the dead were partially nude at the time.

Double standards aside, the backlash from Nipplegate is that the FCC is now clamping down on anything remotely resembling an immoral act. CBS got fined over the Super Bowl; Howard Stern left for satellite; and Britney Spears, already visibly upset that Janet got the idea first, has been banished to Siberia.

Folks, if we're not careful, next year we'll be seeing the triumphant return of Barney the Dinosaur in primetime and the launch of ABC's next big hit, "Quite Contented and Obedient Housewives."

In fact, the only good thing about this reactionary craze is that, fingers crossed, we may have seen the last of Dennis Franz' naked butt on "NYPD Blue." It's not immoral, it's just kinda gross.

Meanwhile, the Super Bowl folks have told MTV pretty much exactly where they can go with their wardrobe malfunctions, and have instead this year booked the family entertainment of Paul McCartney for the halftime gig.

Let me break it to ya, gang. While it's a safe bet that he'll likely be keeping his nipples to himself, Paul McCartney is not family entertainment. The definition of "family entertainment" is, as such, entertainment for the whole family. And if you've got family that's under the age of 20 or so, they're probably not going to be too entertained by old Paul McCartney.

In today's world, an errant boob flash should be just that. It wasn't particularly immoral; it was just particularly stupid. Let's move on.

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