I will admit that I don’t normally watch football, but I sure was on Sunday. As fate would have it, I arrived at a Super Bowl Party at Halftime. As they say, timing is everything.
Those of you who read my book The Death of Right and Wrong were not entirely surprised by what you saw Sunday night masquerading as the Halftime show—a variety of so-called singers and dancers providing nothing less than a Peep Show for your family.
All day long I’ve been fascinated with the focus being on the baring of Jackson’s breast during the family hour on the West Coast (considering Ms. Jackson’s family problem, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that she didn’t consider the combination of sex and children problematic). In fact, the entire production was insulting and offensive.
Come on now, I immediately knew America was in for an assault when rap singer Nelly got on stage and was unable to keep his hand off his crotch. It was astounding—here was a man on broadcast television, with millions of children watching raptly, holding onto his penis as though it were a weapon throughout his performance.
And CBS stayed with it!
Then, of course, we get to the supposed “wardrobe malfunction” as singer (and I use that adjective with reservations) Justin Timberlake described it. Let’s be honest—either these people are complete idiots or they think we are. During a song with a main refrain of “I’ll have you naked by the end of this song” Timberlake managed it quite aptly, and exposed Jackson’s breast—a breast, mind you, that looked like it had been adorned for a very special coming out party.
Personally, and as a cultural critic, I am concerned with those who do not think this a big deal. Let me assure you, it is. Why? Because it’s reflective of Incrementalism—a slow, gradual effort at cultural change, a change that is decidedly downward.
The goal of Incrementalism is to present the depraved or offensive slowly, progressively and then more regularly over a period of time so it becomes apparently normal. That’s what’s happening here. Keep in mind, it’s only the horrible that needs to sneak up on us. Americans always let the wonderful in the front door.
If you’re wondering how Incrementalism works, let’s, however painful it might be, look at Howard Dean. Dean, the one-time top Democratic presidential challenger, said the uproar over the exposure of Jackson’s breast is “silly.”
And then in a comment which really sums up why this man is better suited to be managing a shift at Taco Bell instead of running this great country (Yeeeaaarhhgh!) said, “I find that to be a bit of a flap about nothing. I'm probably affected in some ways by the fact that I'm a doctor, so it's not exactly an unusual phenomenon for me."
Wow! So, doctors see strangers having their clothes ripped off in sexual situations in front of the children of the nation on a regular basis!? Of course, he’s reduced this to the sight of a breast. Just like finding Saddam was the equivalent of catching some weird homeless guy. Depth seems to escape Dr. Dean.
But he didn’t stop there. Dean, who does not have cable television at his home in Vermont, exemplified the moral relativism that has a stranglehold on the American left: "I don't find it terribly shocking relative to some of the things you can find on standard cable television…”
Slowly but surely, because awful things are out there, we are expected to lower our bar of standards, quality and decency. The this-is-okay-because-of-that-thing-over-there syndrome. This is the heart of Howard Dean’s reasoning.
By the way, AOL/Time Warner was the sponsor for the Halftime show. Why is that worth noting? And why does Howard Dean feel the need to be the new apologist for what happened during the Halftime show? Guess who is Howard Dean’s (who will not, will not, be a shill for Special Interests) second largest campaign contributor? You have one more second…that’s right! Time Warner.
And don’t be surprised if you suddenly hear John Kerry, the now-leading Democratic candidate, chime in with a roar of indignation about our displeasure with the pathetic indecent display sponsored by AOL. Guess who is John Kerry’s second all-time contributor? Time Warner, just under Kerry #1 contributor (a law firm) and just above the Kerry #3 contributor (a law firm).
Lawyers and media companies. Yep, the Democrats are gonna sock it right to those Special Interests—like the American people, decency, and the right of our children to not be sexualized by the time they are 5 years old.
Now let me make something clear here—I have not been possessed by the ghost of a nun who is shocked at the sight of flesh. But there is a time and place for everything. I happen to think, as I hope most of you do, that a woman’s body is a beautiful thing. As adults if we want to see a woman’s breast bared on television, we have that option—late at night, when we’ve chosen the program, we’re aware of what we’re getting, and the children are tucked away.
And accepting that option is not meant as a complete abdication of what (and when) we feel certain material is appropriate. We can draw lines for the public airwaves, and we do.
I personally like films and television that challenge our notions of who we are, including our sexuality. But that’s my interest as an adult, and it very well may be an interest very different from yours. The choices we make about sexuality and its imagery are and should be private choices. Viacom and its two mutant children—MTV and CBS—took that choice from us, and decided their view of sexuality would not only be put upon us, but on our children as well, contemptibly wrapped up as ‘family entertainment.’
Despite what the nihilistic heads at Viacom may think, Americans are not asleep at the cultural wheel. First, for a list of what Viacom owns, go to Who Owns What at http://www.cjr.org/tools/owners/ and scroll down to Viacom. Complain to the FCC at www.fcc.gov and let Chairman Michael Powell know you support the investigation and want Viacom and its subsidiaries to face severe consequences for their actions. The Parents Television Council at www.parentstv.org is also leading the way on many issues, including the Halftime debacle.
It’s worth remembering that radio network Infinity was fined for a St. Patrick’s "Sex in the Cathedral" radio stunt. Viacom, which also owns Infinity (surprise!), was told by the FCC that future violations by the company could prompt a license revocation proceeding.
Now isn’t that a novel idea! Broadcast licenses are not granted for eternity. Licenses can be revoked or not renewed. Would it be unusual? Yes, but it’s time for the unusual, including the need to take back our culture. Tearing down certain institutions which continually betray us, and reminding the cultural gatekeepers about who is really in charge, is our responsibility. That time is now.