Monday, February 02, 2004


The United States is in a kerfuffle over Janet Jackson’s breast, which was exposed during the Super Bowl’s halftime show yesterday. There is widespread debate over whether the exposure was intentional.

This is embarrassing. It’s everywhere -- from a close-up image on the Drudge Report to a full-page report in The New York Times, of all things -- and threatens to overshadow news of President Bush’s decision to appoint an Iraq-intelligence panel, rumors of a North Korean death camp and even the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win itself.

What happened to this country? How can an entire nation be thrown into a panic over a half-second glimpse of part of a breast? (Key line in the Boston Herald, on page three, no less: “The camera cut away, but not before stunned audiences glimpsed Jackson’s aureole only partly obscured by a large, star-shaped nipple ring.” No report on how many audience members keeled over from shock and had to be carted out before the next quarter.)

I watched “The Bad News Bears” recently and was stunned myself to find kids smoking with adults and, after the championship game, having a celebratory beer with adults. So European, somehow, and so far away. Such a scene would be unimaginable today, although the kids who grew up in the 1970s mid that decadence are now helping run the world, which seems more conservative than could then have been imagined.

Keep your breast to yourself, Janet Jackson! Any more nudity and we could easily lapse into fascism.

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