For the record, I didn’t like it, either. Who tuned into Super Bowl XXXVIII expecting to see such a spectacle of a halftime show, with the finale built around a bare boob? And I don’t accept the performers’ and network’s apologies claiming it was an accident.
What really alarms me now, however, is how much attention the Janet Jackson breast-bearing flap is getting. The Federal Communications Commission is vowing to figure out if the episode violated indecency standards. If so, Viacom (VIAB), whose MTV division produced the show and whose CBS unit aired it, could face steep penalties. There are reports that Time Warner (TWX), whose America Online unit sponsored the spectacle, wants some of its money back.
Let’s all get a grip. It seems this was just a bad publicity stunt. Should we really be so surprised? After all, Jackson and Justin Timberlake could hardly be expected to waltz across the stage like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire [now that would have been truly shocking].
The world has a lot more pressing concerns right now than a bodice-ripping snafu during the Super Bowl halftime show. Want something really worth worrying about? Want to spend taxpayer dollars on something more important than a probe into Nipplegate? Here are a few concerns that top our list:
Osama bin Laden: Where the heck is he? The U.S. has been hunting for the mastermind of the September 11 attacks for more than two years now. Last week, the military said it was “sure” it would catch the six-foot, four-inch terrorist leader this year. But for now, all they have are those scratchy video and audio tapes he keeps putting out.
Jobs: Where the heck are they? Back in October, Treasury Secretary John Snow predicted the U.S. economy would create 200,000 jobs a month. Even at that rate, it would have been slow going to get the 3 million folks who lost their jobs in the downturn back to work. But it’s not even close. In December, only 1,000 jobs were created. Ouch.
The Growing Deficit: Uncle Sam’s sea of red ink for fiscal 2004 is now projected to be more than $500 billion and seems to growing by the day. When will the tide turn? And who’s going to pay for it? Parents today should be a lot more worried about the monstrous debt being foisted on their children than Janet Jackson’s burst bustier.
Health Care: Politicians pay nothing but lip service to the biggest problem that will face most Americans in their lifetimes: Access to quality medical care. The Medicare program is grossly underfunded, and with millions of baby boomers entering their Golden Years, companies are forcing existing retirees to pay full freight if they want to stay on corporate health plans. If nothing is done, wait until the children who watched that halftime show catch a glimpse of the cost of caring for their aging parents 30 years from now.
The 2004 Presidential Election: Doesn’t matter if you want Bush in or out. What’s really worrisome is how few people vote in this country: Only 50% of eligible voters cast ballots in the Presidential election in 2000, down from 63% in 1960. Pathetic — and even worse when you consider that roughly half the adult population doesn’t even register, which means only 25% of voting-age Americans decide who moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Iceland puts the U.S. to shame with a 87% turnout. C’mon folks, aren’t isn’t this supposed to be the world’s greatest democracy?
Interest Rates: Alan Greenspan & Co. dropped a minibomb in January. Instead of saying the Federal Reserve would leave borrowing costs alone for a “considerable period,” the Fed chief commented that the central bank would be “patient” about lifting rates. In Fedspeak, that subtle change in tone means: Get ready for a hike. That’s the kind of shock — to stock portfolios, home prices, and debt payments — that could have significant consequences for millions of Americans this year.
Infectious Diseases: Now there’s an outbreak of the avian flu in Asia to worry about. Last year, it was SARS. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed 40 million people. Infectious diseases such as malaria still kill millions of people every year in the developing world. Now that’s something to keep you up at night.
Bennifer: Here’s a troublesome development for young adults: If Ben and JLo, with all their money and looks, can’t get hitched, what are the chances for the government’s initiative to promote marriage. And who’s going to fill the tabloid pages now? Janet and Justin?
Martha: She’s in a heck of a lot more trouble than Janet. And Valentine’s Day is around the corner! Who will we turn to for advice on preparing that perfect candlelit dinner for two?