COLUMN 103, MARCH 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE SUPER BOWL
COMMENTARY ON THE JANET JACKSON TIT THING
[Paul McDonald is a morning commentator on Louisville, Kentucky's NPR station, WFPL-FM. A shorter version of this commentary aired Thursday, February 12, 2004. email: email@example.com; web page http://www.paulmcd.net]
A few days after Super Bowl 2004, Teri Carlin of Knoxville, Tennessee filed suit against CBS, MTV, Viacom, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake alleging damages suffered from the half-time show.
Among other things, Ms. Carlin states that she and "?millions of others similarly situated were caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and 'serious injury?? as a result of Timberlake and Jackson's performance. What made this lawsuit interesting was that Carlin was asking that this be a class action lawsuit. And included in the class action would be "?all American citizens who watched the Super Bowl half-time show??
So on behalf of all
those who were seriously injured by Ms. Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, Carlin
was seeking an award based on the revenues generated by the Super Bowl, the
Artists, and the Media Moguls, a figure estimated to be in the billions of
At first I thought this was ridiculous. Of course, I hadn't seen the half-time show. I was sick in bed with the flu and asleep at the time. I only woke up
that wreaked havoc
long enough to see the Patriots pull it out in the final seconds. I caught a couple of film clips, complete with a strategically placed video smudge over the right side of Jackson's thorax and wondered what the big deal was.
The ensuing debacle
reminded me of a Woody Allen movie that had a segment where a wild malevolent
breast wreaked havoc across the countryside until Allen, brandishing a crucifix,
corralled the giant hooter into a massive brassiere. And in a true horror-story ending, the sheriff of a nearby
town warned that it wasn't over yet because these things usually travel in
Like I said I thought this was all pretty ridiculous until I began to wonder what the powers that be at CBS were thinking when they asked MTV to produce the half-time show. I mean, hadn't these guys even seen the MTV Video Awards?
I then downloaded
Carlin's complaint from the Smoking Gun.com and realized that in going for
class action status Ms. Carlin had a busload of chutzpah working for her.
She was hitting the media where it hurts, (publicity and the pocketbook)
and she was going to get their attention the same way a few little known lawyers
in Mississippi got the attention of the Tobacco Industry a few years ago.
I saw a few more replays
of the half-time show and thought the whole thing was a major exercise in
pretension and self-indulgence. In a way it reminded me of when some friends of
mine and I saw the Rolling Stones on Saturday Night Live back in 1979.
At one point the camera zoomed in on Mick Jagger who started licking Ron
Wood's face. My friends and I
groaned and some bolted from the room in disgust.
It was a cheap and tawdry stunt but none of us thought to sue for
damages. But what if we had?
Although the halftime
show wasn't quite that repugnant, I still thought it was in pretty bad taste
and I decided that if CBS, Viacom and MTV were dumb enough to set themselves up
for a lawsuit like this, then, what the hell, maybe they deserved to have their
So I decided I wanted in
on it. I made plans to get a
doctor's affidavit so I could petition the court to be part of the class
action because, never having been breast fed as a child, the shock and awe of
just hearing about Jackson's medallion bedecked nipple had triggered my
Well, my dreams of
becoming debt free and being able to Tivo future Super Bowl half-time shows have
been smashed. Neither will I see
the likes of Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Les Moonves (President of CBS)
and the other Media Maggots running in terror while an Allegorical Woody
Allenesque Tit the size of Minnesota closes in on all of them fast and furious.
It seems that the following Tuesday, Carlin withdrew her lawsuit.
Apparently she wants to see if the "remedial measures" taken by
the networks succeed in preventing similar stunts.
But despite not getting in on the gravy train I have to admit I learned something. I mean, who would have thought you could sue someone, for serious injury no less, because of bad taste? Think of the millions you could make off Reality TV. Is this a great country or what?
Paul McDonald " 2004##
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