I didn't watch the superbowl. I never do. But if I had known Janet Jackson would be unveiling corporate media hypocracy, among other things, during the halftime show, perhaps I would have tuned in after all. Certainly the fallout (no pun intended) has been more than entertaining.
We have it all in American media. We have "reality" shows about everything from real life cops exploiting the broken pieces of people's lives to beautiful yet amazingly shallow women and men in thongs wallowing in hot tubs ala the 1970s. We have every kind of freak show. We even have pornographic "news" shows that glorify war to our children, making light of real-life terror and carnage by sanitizing it all into maudlin stories about "hometown heros." And yet, in the midst of all this, America freaked out over a breast. My God! It was just a breast!
My initial reaction to all this is to laugh. I mean, it's funny. Who would have expected such pious and puritanical outrage over a mere breast in the 21st century? But, on thinking about this more, there's something not so funny about it after all.
Women's bodies are objectified every day in the corporate media. They're used to sell everything from power tools to underwear. Bare breasts seem to be acceptable if they belong to half-naked, half-starved women writhing around in their Victoria's Secret trusses, selling products along with themselves. It's fine for Bally's or Ferrari or Coors to uncover bits and pieces of women's anatomy for a buck. But God help the woman who takes control over her own body and whips out a breast at will, with no corporate sanction and no advance notice.
As I watch the furor unfold, I am constantly seized with the urge to remind everyone, it was only a breast. Unleashed without the patriarchal authority of controlled commerce perhaps, but a breast nonetheless. We all have them. Who hasn't seen one before? Why are they so scary to American authority? Why is it legal for a man to remove his shirt in public, but not a woman? Why is Mel Gibson's breast prime time, but Janet Jackson's breast "indecent"? Why is it acceptable for corporations to profit from the objectification and exploitation of women's bodies, but not for a woman to freely choose to uncover her own body?
I don't have the answers to any of these questions. I don't think anyone else does, either. The truth is, the boobie issue smacks of double standards (again, no pun intended), and the transparent attempts at self-righteous indignation over Janet's breast make no sense. It is particularly revealing (!) that the corporate media chooses to replay the Janet Boob clip over and over at every opportunity, even as they posture about the shocking indecency of it all. When they reply it, after all, they're using it for commercial gain, and the mighty breast is again bent to the will of corporate profit rather than individual choice.