Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Albom on Janet Jackson

In search of Janet, I get full exposure
February 4, 2004

With all the fuss over Janet Jackson's exposed breast during halftime of the Super Bowl, I figured I'd better get a second look.

But it wasn't easy.

First I went to my TV, where I had taped the game. I hit rewind, then hit play, and up came a beer commercial in which semi-naked women were slow-dancing into men.

I rewound again, then hit play, and up came a commercial showing Madonna kissing Britney Spears.

I rewound more, and up came a beer guy singing about how much he loved "TWINS!" and suddenly there were two bodacious blondes, scantily dressed and blowing kisses in my direction.

I quickly hit the fast-forward button. I saw some football, followed by gorgeous cheerleaders in low-cut outfits, a little more football, more seductive cheerleaders.

Finally, I got to the halftime show. I saw the "safe" part -- you know, the part the NFL and CBS approved -- in which Nelly, the rap singer, grabbed his crotch as if shifting gears.

I saw more of the "safe" part, in which Kid Rock draped himself in an American flag and sang a song that mentioned "hookers trickin' in Hollywood" and "homies in cell block six."

I saw more of the "safe" part, in which Justin Timberlake was behind Janet Jackson, simulating what, in a family newspaper, can only be referred to as "the nasty."

But wouldn't you know it? Just before they sang the "approved" lyrics -- "Bet I'll have you naked by the end of this song" -- my tape ran out.

Striptus interruptus.

To the Internet and MTV
So I went to my backup source, the Internet.

I searched on "Janet Jackson" and "breast," but before I could get anywhere, up popped a porno ad for a girl named Janet.

Then an ad for a guy named Jackson.

I spiked those and returned to my search, but the first result was a porno site for "girls with big breasts."

So were the next 197.

This was going nowhere, so I shut off the computer and went to MTV. After all, these folks had created the halftime show. I figured they must be running replays.

Unfortunately, when I flipped on MTV, the first thing I saw was an orgy. At least it looked like an orgy, it was hard to tell, because each camera shot lasted only three-tenths of a second. There were mostly naked men and women, making love, reaching for unmentionables, and generally getting hot and steamy to a hip-hop beat.

I waited for that video to finish.

The next was pretty much the same.

Four hours later, having seen enough bumping, grinding, tight jeans, brassieres, sultry necks, pouty lips and lower back tattoos to last a lifetime, I concluded MTV was not going to replay the Janet thing.

I looked at my watch and realized it was 8:30 p.m. -- about the time the controversial incident with Janet and Justin took place. Many had complained that this was "family hour" and their kids, at that time, should never be exposed to such raunchy filth as a naked breast.

So, out of curiosity, I flipped through the channel guide to see what else was on at that East Coast hour during school nights (which the Super Bowl was). The offerings included:

"The Bachelorette," in which a sexy girl chooses from sexy strangers. "The Apprentice," in which sexy yuppies try to backstab their way to a job. And "Friends," in which six sexy stars deal with issues, mostly sex.

But enough TV.

I went to buy a newspaper.

Some heavy reading to cover
At the newsstand, I noticed the magazines. There was Maxim, with a topless Michelle Branch on the cover, and Stuff magazine, with Carmen Electra in a tiny pink bikini on the cover, and FHM magazine, with a completely naked woman covered only in body paint on the cover, alongside an article titled "The Sexy Girls of the Winter X Games."

I saw women's magazines with slim, seductive bodies, and articles about "better sex" and "longer sex" and "longer, better sex."

There was even an ad promising the next Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, due any day now.

And these were the magazines that weren't hidden in brown wrapping.

Alas, when I finally got a newspaper, there were no photos of Janet's moment of exposure.

What's a guy to do? I walked back past the magazines about sex, drove home while listening to a radio show about sex, shut off the TV show about sex, shut down my computer screen about sex, and put away the CDs about sex.

Then the fax machine rang. A note from a friend, saying, "Did you see this?"

And out came a picture of Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl, one breast exposed.

How disgusting!

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