Showing posts with label Janet Jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Janet Jackson. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Private Parts

Near the end of the half-time show of Super Bowl XXXVIII, Justin Timberlake reached across Janet Jackson’s chest in order to remove a cup from her black leather bustier. In doing so, he happened to reveal her right breast to millions of viewers. Predictably, in the aftermath of the event, many Washington lawmakers invoked the rhetoric of moral outrage. A few months after this particular Super Bowl, Congress approved a measure allowing the FCC to increase the maximum fine from $27,500 to $275,000 for violations of decency on television and radio. In fact, the measure was later inserted into the 2005 defense authorization bill, revealing the control of televised images is on par with national security.

In a world in which decorum is the only morality left, the exposure of Janet Jackson’s breast on national television was a fundamental breach of etiquette. American culture obviously believes the censorship of body parts is a deep, fundamental value worth preserving at any cost. If a black woman’s breast (don’t they always come in pairs?) can be revealed to millions on national television, what could be next? It would seem the proper covering of body parts is as equally important as national security. However, just so the point can’t be conveniently neglected, Jackson’s breast was not totally exposed—she was wearing a nipple shield big enough to cover completely the areola. This curious fact led many conspiracy-minded critics to conclude that the event was not accidental but a tasteless stunt, engineered to revitalize the aging pop star’s fading career.

The Timberlake-Jackson event is yet another instance of the problematic nature of pop music in American society: inevitably, it would seem, pop music generates controversy. In any case, censorship and proscription lead to counter-strategies and evasive tactics, among them being the use of slang and euphemism, as the lyrics to many pop songs, so linked to vernacular expression, attest. As might be expected, sex organs are highly fetishized body parts in pop lyrics, but so too are breasts, legs, and gluteal muscles. But where’s William Burroughs when you need him? I know of no pop song featuring a Talking Asshole.

Infernal Organs And Body Parts:
Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling
The Black Eyed Peas – My Humps
Jackson Browne – Red Neck Friend
The Commodores – Brick House
Sheena Easton – Sugar Walls
Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
Iggy Pop – Cock In My Pocket
K.C. and the Sunshine Band – (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty
Led Zeppelin – The Lemon Song
LL Cool J – Big Ole Butt
Mojo Nixon – Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin
Primus – Winona’s Big Brown Beaver
Reverend Horton Heat – Wiggle Stick
Salt-N-Pepa – Shoop
Bob Seger – Night Moves
Rod Stewart – Hot Legs
Wreckx-N-Effect – Rump Shaker
Frank Zappa – G-Spot Tornado
ZZ Top – Tube Steak Boogie