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Home > Culture and Society

Flash in the pan

"I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the half-time performance”

- Justin Timberlake

3 February 2004

Oh look. There's Janet Jackson's knocker. And it's got some sort of futuristic silver crab on it.


The "wardrobe malfunction" which left Janet's right-hand duck dangling out of her costume during the Superbowl half-time entertainment has caused quite a stir. An investigation by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been launched, and even the White House has made a statement:

"Our view is, it's important for families to be able to expect a high standard when it comes to programming..."

- White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Michael Powell, the chairman of the FCC, summed it up about right when he described the flashing as: "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt". Certainly it was crass. And nobody could accuse Justin Timberlake of being classy. But it was deplorable for reasons wholly different reasons from those suggested by Powell:

"I am outraged at what I saw during the half-time show of the Super Bowl. Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted... Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."

This is an astonishing way of speaking about the sight of some boob-flesh (not even the nipple, which was tucked away safely beneath the silver crab). The celebration was tainted. The merest glimpse of Janet's jug completely ruined the Superbowl for Powell and his shocked and weeping family.

What Powell doesn't see is that the stunt was "deporable" simply because it was such a cheap bit of end-of-the-pier naughtiness. (Are we imagining it, or is Justin Timberlake turning into Benny Hill before our eyes...?) It's all just so boringly predictable. The raunchy dancing. The naughty boob flash. Naughty Justin! The shock. The horror. The stupid stupid reaction of the conservatives.

Speaking of which - Jan LaRue, speaking on behalf of Concerned Women for America, laid into the National Football League "for approving a pornographic halftime show produced by MTV that was totally consistent with MTV's pornography that they produce all of the time."

Pornography? If a flapping glimpse of a partially-revealed hooter can be described as pornography then it's a sad indictment of the pornographic industry worldwide.

Outraged too was Brent Bozell, president of conservative pressure group, the Parents Television Council:

To those who insist that a parent's sole remedy for such filth is to simply "turn the channel," we ask this: Does this mean that parents shouldn't allow their children to watch football games anymore?

Lest they see a boob.

The filth of a boob.

By thunder, America is one fucked up country. With one eye it ogles the antics of Trousersnake and his bootilicious buddies, while the other eye is screwed shut in disgust. One quivering fist is busy stuffing millions of dollars down jiggling Janet's spangled pants, while the other is scrabbling for a Bible.

Here's a question: do you think we'll ever live in a world where a) flashing your boob doesn't actually increase your record sales, and b) the sight of a boob flash doesn't cause people to go giddy with horror...?

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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