The Rip Post




(Feb. 11, 2004)

        It was the breast of times, it was the worst of times.
        All right, let's say the bust didn't go bust. Let's say that Justin Timberlake---which must be the funniest name since "Rip Rense"---managed to pull only Janet Jackon's right leather milk-gland sling free, leaving intact the red "bustier" underneath. As allegedly planned.
        Let's say that instead of a drooping blob of mammary flab, hilariously crowned with some kind of sheriff's badge (has Janet been secretly deputized by Homeland Security?) viewers would have been merely left with:
        A 37-year-old woman dressed like a killer dominatrix harlot prancing and grinding as if auditioning for Satan's back-up singers. And an angry, strutting boy who had just ripped part of her clothing off.
        That would have been okay?
        The USofA and CBofS and MtofVwould have found it "tasteful?" Boob Tube Chief of Police Michael Powell could have gone back to helping Rupert Murdoch make money? John Ashcroft would have been spared his second-ever sighting of a bare female breast (the first having come on that Justice Department statue that he covered up)?
        Guess so.
        Jasper Timberbloke and the female Michael Jackson have both "apologized" for the "incident," famously calling it a "wardrobe malfunction." Clearly suggesting that had Female Michael's nursing nozzle remained covered, all would have been Super, and America simply Bowled over.
        "I am really sorry if I offended anyone," came the dreary cliché "apology" from Jackson, which means that a few weeks or months from now you will read a Rolling Stone interview where she says "I thought it was pretty sexy."
        Pardon me while I titter.
Blaming Female Michael and Jughead for "moral breakdown" in society is like blaming Tommy Chong for drug addiction.
      Even if the bustier hadn't busted, what possible "message" could one take away from this Vaudeville from Hell? That sex is brutal, violent, perverse? That when you tear a woman's clothes off, be sure and do it "tastefully?" That women are fierce, aggressive sex fiends, and men rapists?
        My, what healthy subject matter to sell in a society where little girls routinely disappear and turn up raped and decomposed a few days later. Janet, you go, girl! I'll bet poor Carlie Brucia's parents are big fans of yours!
        Now, I didn't see the halftime show, or the Super Bowl. I have more interest in the digestive systems of marmosets than I do in pro football. Giants plowing into each other and running the same brutish unimaginative plays over and over again is not my idea of amusement. I realize this makes me a communist in the eyes of many citizens, but I can't help that.
        And I have more interest in pro football than I do in Female Michael, Jason Treewater, that thing that calls itself "Kid Rock," "P. Diddy" (which I recently did in a urologist's office) or their "music." I know this makes me a highbrow, but I remain suspicious that music is more than hyperaggressive shouting and amplified bass lines that sound like King Kong walking. I seem to vaguely recall something about melody and lyric, but I'm not sure.
       Besides, I saw an act just like Jackon's in Amsterdam once. It was called a "live sex show."
        I witnessed enough to know that Female Michael's apology for the "incident" doesn't cover it any better than that badge covered her areola. There is no "incident" to apologize for. There is an entire popular culture.
        Putting it diplomatically: Janet Jackson is obscene, breast bared or not. Jughead Clambake is obscene. The Super Bowl half-time show is obscene. The Super Bowl is obscene. The amount of money involved in all of it is obscene beyond description. American pop culture is obscene for its banality and pandering to lowest common denominator response, for a buck. Demographers and marketing folk who exploit without conscience are profoundly obscene.
        The fact that the world is abuzz about a bazoom is obscene.
        What a country. Enron theft and corporate tyranny are not obscene, apparently. Outsourcing to India and Mexico and putting countless thousands of mothers and fathers out of work. . .not obscene. Environmental destruction and usurpation of natural resources. . .not obscene. Lying about "weapons of mass destruction" in order to declare war on Iraq, and allow U.S. corporations to suckle at the great oil teat, and occupy the Middle East. . .not obscene. Sending the country from trillion-dollar surplus to trillion-dollar bankruptcy. . .not obscene. "Privatizing" (read: destroying) Social Security. . .not obscene. Playing on fear to secure power. . .not obscene. Wiping out 100,000 innocent men, women and children in Iraq, and over 500 U.S. soldiers. . .not obscene.
        A breast exposed for reasons other than expressing milk. . .obscene.
        What can one say? Female Michael and most exponents of popular culture believe that sexual displays are important art. They've been taught this for decades by a largely licentious, amoral, profiteering corporate media. It's really not their fault. The pop music industry is as egregiously mercenary an enterprise as ever to have existed. It will package anything if there is money to be made; witness the rise of "lyrics" about rape, killing, sodomizing, and just about any form of mayhem conceivable. Music industry oligarchs and pop robberbarons like Madonna piously repeat the big lie that they give the public what it wants, when in fact they calculate what the public will react to, which is quite different. What does the public react to? Hint: it ain't Elizabethan era poetry. Same principle applies to all forms of au courant popular culture: movies, books, art.
        Blaming Female Michael and Jughead for "moral breakdown" in society is like blaming Tommy Chong for drug addiction. Janet is the tit of the iceberg.
        So go ahead and turn on the boob tube, America! Slo-mo replays of death and mayhem from around the world on "Maximum Exposure," packaged with nifty sarcastic xenophobic commentary, are perfectly fine. Endless views of JFK's exploding head, replayed thousands of times a year. . .fine. If you have cable, tune in one of those all-breasts-all-the-time stations---fine. "Girls Gone Wild" infomercials parading beer-crazed female beasts hoisting their shirts and rubbing their hinds together (with key area a little blurry) are fine. All those "dating" shows in which admirable young adults neck naked in hot tubs, then talk about sex, sex, and occasionally sex. . .fine. Pornographic videos staging beatings and rapes and mutiliations. . .fine. Websites devoted to defecation and urination. . .fine.
        Television largely usurped by manic hucksters doing infomercials for everything from "ab trainers" to prostate remedies? Fine. TV news routinely reducing horror into palatable soundbites, taking the "real" out of reality? Fine. Rupert Murdoch and corporate tyrants controlling public discourse? Fine. Laughtracks and sitcom jokes about "buttcracks" and less-than-picturesque bodily functions? "Dr. Phil" cashing in on the wretched little problems of the not-too-smart? TV preachers who look like Howdy Doody two weeks in the grave pretending to heal terminally ill children? "Pundits" getting fat and rich by exploiting hatred?
        Have a ball. Game over. The Greed Bay Packers win. You big bunch of boobs.


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