Meditations on Janet Jackson’s Right Breast

I'm-a have you nekkid by the end of this song...To be sure, the fact that Justin Timberlake removed a portion of Janet Jackson’s Genghis Khan-like costume during the MTV-orchestrated Super Bowl half time show is well known. Presumably, this has more to do with the fact that Janet’s career is about as over as M.C. Hammer’s: they can both do a great job of bustin’ a move, but who the hell has been thinking about buying discs from either of those two? Since Janet posed a few years ago for a Rolling Stone cover with her breasts covered by a man’s hands, it is evident that she’s not in the least bit shy about showing her well-rounded skin. What’s somewhat interesting about the whole thing is that unless someone was watching the CBS telecast with a high-definition plasma screen about the size of something found in a multiplex, the exposure was something that would be best measured by physicists at Argonne National Lab, as it had the half life of one of those new transuranic elements that have just been found.


There is a certain quandary, in effect, that this whole thing surfaces. On the one hand, it’s a, “Yeah: Janet. A little skin on prime time TV. Rockin!” It’s sort of the in-your-face—or that should be “in-their-face”—move that has long been hailed as the subversive side of music. Set the bourgeoisie back in their seats: Wham! And on the other, it is conceivable to be considered to be some sort of prude to criticize the move: What’s wrong—don’t like to see a little skin? But when you consider the elements of the incident, the artificial nature (an oxymoron, that) is striking. How is it that a millionaire exposing a breast is in anyway to be considered some sort of politically controversial gesture? Hell, LaToya was more authentic (well, in a sense) in Playboy and wherever else she could show what she’s got working. That Jackson family is one that is probably making Ozzy and Sharon worry that they’re too normal. This is all about commerce, purely and simply. If you can’t make it on talent anymore—or if your talent is still as good as it was but has been simply eclipsed by this year’s model—then work with what you’ve got, right?

The part that ought to raise a certain amount of concern is that MTV is owned by Viacom, which just happens to own CBS, as well. Viacom is one of the two companies (Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation being the other one) that is benefiting from the FCC’s recent regulation regarding ownership of media properties: So far as they’re concerned, the more the better. Joe Browne, NFL executive vice president, stated after the telecast, “It’s unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime.” It is probably a good thing for Browne and the NFL that his statement isn’t definitive, because the way things are going with media concentration, there may not be a hell of a lot of choice in the not-too-distant future. And we will sit like mopes in front of the screen, imagining that there’s subversion going on when Madonna kisses the Radio City Rockettes or some fading star completely unzips.

OuchTo be sure, the Super Bowl, as many have noted, is probably about as close to the “bread and circus” aspects of the declining Roman Empire. Everything is there except for the lions. Blood. Sweat. Music. Sex. We thrive on it. One of the big topics around the Super Bowl telecast—before, during and after—are the commercials. We get sated with the spectacle of the football, which gets our juices going, and as we don’t go out and smash and bash as the players do, we vent our passions by buying Bud or getting really risky and logging on to Monster.com to look for a new job. We don’t want to think about the economy. The deficit. None of that stuff. C’mon, that was Janet Jackson’s breast, forgodssake!

All of which leads us right down the path that the good people at Viacom, the NFL, and the rest would like us to tread: Forget real controversy. The play’s the thing.

22 thoughts on “Meditations on Janet Jackson’s Right Breast”

  1. Jackson now claims that the maneuver was planned but that it went too far, that she was actually supposed to have a more modest red lace cover up. Which leads one to wonder whether the object in the aforementioned comment is something she ordinarily wears. Nothing like rolling around with a throwing star impaling particularly sensitive flesh.

  2. Sunday is significant because it signifies the twin nadirs of both MTV and Janet Jackson’s storied careers. MTV’s sewer dunking comes as no surprise; after pioneering a then-revoutionary format back at its inceptions, they have succeeding in becoming the single biggest insult to the collective intelligence of their targeted demographic (what a legacy. Nice going, fools). Their M.O. seems to be a constant game of “how-low-can-you-go”; they might as well ask Viacom to take out a huge billboard on the company’s dime saying in huge letters “We’ve long run out of truly creative ideas and are trying to find new ways to bottom out in order to mass market to the sheep”. At least they’d be honest. So while they sink deeper into the effluence, at least we can’t say we didn’t see it in the cards.

    Janet is another, ultimately more tragic story. I gotta say, when all was said and done, I used to respect Janet. It was easy to see her as the only non-dysfunctional of the Jacksons currently in the public eye. Control and Rhythm Nation were both crisp classy pop exercises which still hold up, and the videos were wonderful, captivating examples of what the format should aspire to. Even though I stopped listening after RN, I still thought she had class. The famous Rolling Stone husband’s-hands-as-bra pinup shot was sexy in a smoldering-yet-classy way.

    And then Sunday’s stunt… gone in a flash.

    The only way that I could conceive of why she’d do this after such a long run is that she is a really good sister to her near-bankrupt brother Michael. He’s long since squandered his Thriller millions on llama feed, the ultimate nose job, and those pesky legal fees (Shapiro don’t work on the cheap just because it’s Michael). In this hypothetical scenario, Michael asks Janet if he can spot her ten million or so until the shitstorms stop. Being a good sister, she needs to find a way to shoot this next release into the stratosphere. Enter Vinny, a hypothetical career “advisor” with hygiene problems because he sweats a lot. He tells her that this stunt will shoot her back into the charts. Janet, realizing that she’s had a good run, decides to wring a few last drops from the sponge of her career. I can only hope that she didn’t quite realize just how bad of a body blow her respect would take by doing this. All of it gone in a flash, pun intended.

    Adios Janet; it was good knowing ya.

  3. I understand that the original plan had Janet’s breast obscured by Christina Aguilera’s tongue. But rumor has it that Christina never made it out of Aerosmith’s dressing room.

  4. I didn’t watch so forgive me for asking, but they had Janet Jackson AND Aerosmith on this bill? Were Rick Astley and Uriah Heep unavailable? Not that Justin Timberlake and Kid Rock are anything special, but at least they’ve recorded stuff that would be considered relevant (in some circles) within the last 5 yrs.

  5. Don’t worry moms and kids, the FCC’s Michael Powell is launching an investigation.

    “Nevermind media consolidation, what we need to do is keep smut like Janet’s nipple off the air!”

    This is yet another reason to entertain becoming an anarchist.

  6. Hi,

    I’m janet’s friend,but she doesn’t know me.It was very embarrassing just send some pictures and i’ll sort it out

  7. The issue shouldn’t be Janet’s breast it should be Justin’s lie! A “wardrobe malfunction” come on, we all saw Justin tear off the breast of her costume. We’re sending the wrong message to kids and it has nothing to do with nudity. If you do something “wrong” you can lie about it even if a few million people saw you do it. This was planned to be shocking so Justin should be a stand up guy, take the heat for it and move on. Justin is the one being a COWARD.

  8. I appreciate an opinion piece that includes an image of the offending nipple. It is funny (funny boohoo) how much attention it is getting when there are so many other things to get worked up about. Not to bore all of you, but how about getting worked up about the 524 Americans who died in Iraq? Or the Bush administration allowing funding for abandoned mine lands to run out? There is nothing wrong with Janet or Viacom; they are manipulating (controlling) the media and we’re letting them do it.

  9. You suck. You and your Janet Jackson comments just SUCK. She’s a fucking whore and a media puppet. Justin lameass Timberlake is no better. Media ho’s. Thats what they are. And its idiots like you that encourage that shit.

  10. I always hated that Justin. I was just shocked when my friend and I were watching the Super Bowl and so the Half Time show. At first we thought it was fake but now they say it was real. Oh well. I guess everything has a downfall but I think alot of people were happy.

  11. What is wrong with the breast. America is one of the only countries in the world that has related breasts to the taboo of sex. Breasts are not about sex they are about nurturing. If the general public did not view the natural functions of the body as taboo , this issue would not exist.If not for the nurturing breast people would have died out eons ago.The bottle wasn’t invented until after the dark ages.

  12. My Gosh!!!give me a break! You people act like you have never seen a breast before! Most of the women on this site seem to be more jealous than offended….and any guy that did”nt like that flash, is scared of his wife!!! Ill say it for you,{married men} we only wish we could have seen the other nipple…lol…for crying out loud!…give it a break!……

  13. Interesting. Seems that many people are outraged by the breast exposure. But may I ask those of you who would blast this incident to hold your tongue and think a while before loosing. If you are really so concerned about the state of moral affairs in America, or the lack of, you would have spoken out long ago. And if all the people who blasted all done that, America would very well have been a much more moral society. So please. Hypocrites are much more dangerous and disgusting than boob-flashers

  14. This is in response to jmp: While I don’t think “titgate” is anything to get all excited about, the notion that a bare breast isn’t sexual is ludicrouse, especially in this culture and in that particular context. Nothing wrong with it being sexual, in my view, but let’s not pretend it isn’t, or even that it shouldn’t be. I like my breast flashing to contain a little sexual charge.

  15. I don’t understand what is so offensive about a nipple. It’s just an innoccuous bump of flesh, slightly lighter or darker than the breast on which it rests.

    So millions of people saw one and a collective gasp is heard across America.

    “How could this happen? Children saw that nipple! Now they’re going to become terrorists!”

    It’s the taboo that makes a nipple more than a bump. Her bump is harmless and beautiful, as humans are beautiful.

Leave a Reply