Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2004 / 14 Shevat, 5764
The Investigationhttp://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The name is Spade. Sam Spade.
I got the call right after the Super Bowl half-time performance. It was Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Powell. He
was outraged by the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake stunt. He said America deserved better. He hired me to investigate the
I met Timberlake at his palatial estate, but he stuck to his slippery story. He said it was an accident. Yeah, he was supposed to
yank at Jackson's bustier, but he had no idea it would spill her endowments before 100 million people.
I visited Jackson at her mother's home. Unlike Timberlake, she sang like a canary. She said it WAS planned. She said she was
sorry if she offended anyone - not just sorry, you see, but sorry IF she offended anyone. She was emphatic that no one else was
I wasn't convinced. It was time to pay a visit to MTV Group President Judy McGrath. See, MTV is the sister company of CBS, and
CBS broadcast the Super Bowl. But it was MTV that organized the half-time production. McGrath said Jackson and Timberlake
arranged the bustier stunt on their own. She said she was disappointed they didn't tell anyone.
McGrath's demeanor enraged me. Sure, I might not tie her directly to the bustier incident, but this woman was guilty with a big G.
She deliberately broadcasts lascivious programming to lure teens to her channel - programming that promotes risky and
destructive behavior of every kind.
You see, McGrath knows that young teens are impressionable. They're longing to fit in, be hip, be accepted. MTV promises them
hip-ness - if only they buy the useless products the channel hawks. If only they mimic the casual sex, excessive drinking and
other self-absorbed behavior MTV liberally promotes. But McGrath wouldn't budge.
I knew I had to dig deeper. And I knew exactly where to go.
"Mr. Tagliabue, I think the NFL is guilty on multiple counts."
I explained how the NFL wrote the book on crass commercialism. They kicked off the 2003 season with a big celebration on the
Washington Mall. Sure, the Mall forbids commercial activity but a $10 million NFL payoff changed that rule. The NFL then
exploited the war in Iraq for its own gain - a bizarre event that featured Britney Spears, who had just locked lips with Madonna.
The NFL knew when they hired MTV that the half-time show would be garbage. Even if Jackson didn't display her chest jewelry,
they knew Kid Rock would desecrate the American flag. That Nelly would grab his pelvic region. And that Timberlake would bump
and grind with Jackson.
No, the NFL knew that MTV would stage a shock-and-smut show designed to lure coveted young male viewers. Then CBS could
charge a premium for its advertising, a premium that would be shared with the NFL. But Tagliabue wouldn't crack.
As I drove home, I mulled the situation over. Then it hit me. At first, it appeared that the stunt backfired, but it did NOT backfire. To
Janet Jackson's new album was released the day after the Super Bowl. The publicity surely helped her increase sales. Ditto for
MTV came off even hipper and edgier to the teen audience it craves. Surely they're tuning in more now than before the Super Bowl.
The NFL can pretend to be outraged when in fact the stunt generated increased interest for everything NFL - particularly among the
coveted young male audience.
Heck, even FCC Commission Powell was able to score points off the incident.
Suddenly the whole scam became clear to me. The stunt worked exactly as planned. Everyone who stood to gain did gain. And
who stood to lose? Well, everyone.
The America culture is growing coarser by the minute. Americans are losing their sense of propriety and good taste. Vulgarity is
hip and cool and the concept of class is slipping from our grasp a little more every day.
THAT is the real crime that was committed here. But nobody asked me to investigate that one.
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01/23/04: Weighty adjustment