jI don't know who's to blame for "Boobgate" - and I'm not referring to Howard Dean's ability to spend $40 million just to lose a series of primaries pretty badly. No, I'm talking about the exposure of the most infamous mammary in Western civilization - for this week at least - revealed during the Super Bowl's halftime show.
The, er, "fallout" from Janet Jackson's and Justin Timberlake's stunt has sent shockwaves throughout the world of broadcasting. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue issued a statement making it clear he plans a Stalinist purge of anybody tainted by the Jackson, um, flap. CBS has apologized. MTV has apologized. Timberlake immediately offered a mea culpa saying that he was the victim of a "wardrobe malfunction."
Let me take a quick break from the weighty issues in this column so I can get on the record right now. My daughter isn't quite 1 year old yet, but in (God willing) 20 years, if some boy thinks he can use a "wardrobe malfunction" as an excuse for similar behavior, he'd better wear a pretty protective wardrobe himself.
Jackson and Timberlake claim that the plan was merely to pull off her skirt, to reveal her tights, but the skirt proved too cumbersome for Janet to bump and grind in. So, according to America's leading minds, the duo decided in the dressing room that Justin should tear off the front of her bodice, exposing her red lace undergarment. Alas, Justin didn't know his own strength and managed to rip off the entire bodice and the undergarment as well.
Now, I don't find this entirely believable. Did they call in a seamstress to make the bodice a breakaway at the last moment? Moreover, this version of events would mean that Janet (or Miss Jackson if you're nasty) normally wears that sun-shaped pewter thingamajig under her bra and never expected anyone to see it. Ick. And, the lyrics of the song in question were "I'll have you naked by the end of this song," not "I'll have you in your underwear."
Whatever. I guess "What happened to Janet Jackson's bra?" will join "What happened to the second gunman?" "Where are Saddam's WMDs?" and "Whoever said Ben Affleck can act?" in the great pantheon of unanswerable mysteries of our age.
Who cares? Timberlake and Jackson's motives were the same nonetheless: to shock and titillate.