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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Posted 8:08 PM by Kelly
Administrative Law in Action

Oh, brother. This is just ridiculous. Michael Powell, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, ordered an investigation Monday into the Super Bowl halftime "Janet & Justin" incident. Now, I understand that the FCC has a job to do. And if they find that regulations were violated, then fines will be in order.

However, the outcry that has ensued is completely out of proportion to any possible damage the stunt may have caused. Most of the people I have talked with who actually watched the halftime show didn't realize what had transpired until television news programs told them the next day.

Powell stated, "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt." A celebration? NFL football is one of the most violent mainstream sports in our culture. We cheer for the team who can inflict the most pain upon the other team. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching football. But to make the argument that the violent contest is wholesome family fun and at the same time claim that the exposure of one female breast is deplorable borders on bizarre.

It's a breast, people. No, I don't particularly wish from now on to be exposed to naked men and women every time I turn on network television. Yes, the appropriate entities should be fined if necessary. But the sanctimonious stance of CBS and others is outrageous.

This is the same network that invited Richard Hatch, the perpetually naked Survivor contestant, back to compete in the new episode. It is the same network that airs the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, an hour of half-naked women prancing around for the cameras. It is the same network that has several successful crime-related shows full of graphic images.

(And then, of course, there are the commercials, often more eagerly anticipated than the outcome of the game. Every other commercial is for Budweiser or some related product; wonder what Powell's family thought of the farting horse? Good family fun!)

I know, people will claim families aren't gathering around the set to watch the above shows. Nevertheless, I simply can't take seriously CBS's cries of shock and outrage. Not to mention that if the stunt was planned, CBS and the FCC are playing right into Janet's plan and providing her with all the free publicity that a woman with a soon-to-be-released new album could possibly want.

Get over it.

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