Breast-exposing Janet Jackson tried to rehabilitate her sinking music career the other night by going on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and satirically smearing her infamous Super Bowl nipple-cover stunt onto undeserving National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. This Jackson woman is fast becoming as pathetic a figure as her brother.
NBC's writers cleverly figured out how to make Jackson's perversity fit into the news of the week, and the vast chasm between Jackson's exhibitionist public conduct in Houston and Rice's grace under televised fire in Washington could spur some laughs. But it could also be seen as Jackson piling desperation atop desperation. Jackson was trying to rehabilitate her sinking music career by exposing the breast in the first place, and now is reduced to making fun of herself.
The re-rehabilitation effort isn't working very well. Radio is not enamored by Jackson's new album. MTV is punishing her for her CBS stunt by refusing to air her video, a fascinating development since it was MTV that produced, manipulated and initially lauded the show on the Internet. It's just as well, since the fading pop tart wears some kind of push-up bra displayed by a low-buttoned shirt. Neither she nor her smutty-minded business advisers seem to have acquired a clue yet about what they've done wrong, nor an ounce of regret for doing so.
In the post-Super Bowl environment, where the issue of broadcast indecency is finally earning a respectful hearing and real public concern about collapsing broadcast morality is being recognized, the national media's reaction isn't always satire and humor. It often carries fright-filled warnings of impending oppression.
The wire service Reuters recently published a story on the new public mood by noting that Victoria's Secret has decided to fold its failed experiment of an annual prime-time ABC -- then CBS -- underwear fashion show, a program-length commercial complete with a supermodel "butt cam." That's definitely a small victory for decency, but it's also a result based on business reality: The show stunk it up in the ratings.
But Reuters reporter Michelle Gershberg began: "Whether you believe it is a new sexual McCarthyism or you see it as a long-awaited campaign against programming that's crossed the line into indecency, U.S. television is about to get toned down."