Will Janet, Justin accept the consequences?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2004

The water cooler conversation at most work places this week has continued to involve that of Super Bowl XXXVIII for its edge-of-your-seat play-by-play, commercials, the streaker and, of course, Janet Jackson’s revealing moment courtesy of Justin Timberlake.

Naturally, details of the football game – such as the North Carolina Panthers leaping in the air like animals snagging those remarkable catches – are being repeated in the news. Also, I really admire the attitudes displayed by both quarterbacks in their excellent performances under pressure. Unfortunately, other incidents during the game have taken the glory away from both teams.

The commercials were hilarious giving our country sorely needed comic relief after so much bad news about the war, more troops deployed to Iraq, and the astronauts of spaceship Columbia who were killed one year ago.

Email newsletter signup

But everything came to an abrupt gasp at halftime during the show of all shows when Janet Jackson’s right breast was revealed. I didn’t know if I was seeing straight until I returned home from a Super Bowl Party. But the truth was soon to be known. I reversed the tape that I was recording of the game just in case it was a moment of special effects.

Then I saw the shocked look on Janet’s face as Justin Timberlake tore off part of her blouse.

Let’s just pretend for a quick minute that she really was taken aback. At that moment, I just knew that Timberlake would be in court Monday morning faced with an assault charge. But on Monday, Jackson stated in so many words that the ending segment was planned, and that MTV and CBS were unaware that she and Justin made the decision to change the routine at the last minute.

There is an obvious lesson we can take away from this: Whenever you make an important decision, always weigh the pros and the cons. One bad choice can change your entire life forever.

Since this was an MTV production in collaboration with CBS, I pulled up MTV’s Web site immediately after the game to see if anything was being reported about the incident. Finally, there it was: &uot;An MTV Statement on Super Bowl XXXVIII.&uot; The statement read that the tearing of Jackson’s costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional, and was inconsistent with assurances they had about the content of the performance. There was also an apology by MTV stating its regrets. Timberlake has blamed the &uot;mishap&uot; on a wardrobe malfunction. But no matter how sorry these people are, damage has been done.

Now the Federal Communications Commission is investigating.

MTV and all CBS stations that aired the show may have to fork over fines up to $27,500 or in the millions.

I originally suspected that this action by the duo had been planned. Why? Because Justin Timberlake knew exactly where to rip the fabric and he sang this lyric moments before he did it, &uot;I’ll get you naked by the end of this song,&uot;

Also on Monday, Katie Couric of NBC’s Today Show interviewed Janice Minh, an editor-in-chief of the U.S. Weekly. Minh said musicians sometimes shock their audiences to boost music sales.

She went on to mention the kiss Brittany Spears and Madonna shared during a TV performance.

As Minh spoke, I recalled that in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, Spears went on to do something more surprising and stupid when she married her childhood friend in a quickie marriage only to get an annulment within 24 hours.

I am now wondering what shocking effect is James Brown trying to make with his recent wild man look and arrest for an assault on a family member; and Michael Jackson displaying some very weird behavior while going through molestation charges involving an under-aged and sick child.

Minh said that if Janet willingly went along with this bearing of her chest on primetime while so many families and children were watching, it was a horrible error in judgment.

Um, a horrible error in judgment? Could that have been the case with Michael? What effect would this have on his case? Would it portray the Jacksons even more as a family even beyond the reach of Dr. Phil -especially considering Michael Jackson’s recent performance atop an SUV outside court? If I were a singer or any public figure, I would at least want to set a good example for the young ones to follow in my footsteps.

Janet, if you wanted to shock Americans into buying your music, why didn’t you do what Oprah Winfrey did, when she went to another country to help those who were less fortunate than she was? Winfrey is a billionaire because she is in the business of giving. It has been said that what you give usually comes back to you.

Television channels are not allowed to play the scene exposing Janet’s breast; however, now she is on the Internet and millions of uncensored recorded tapes for anybody and everybody to see.

Back to the lesson at hand: As Dr. Phil so eloquently puts in, Janet and Justin have chosen the behavior and now they have to suffer the consequences of that behavior.

And as Rodney Dangerfield would put it, the clear consequence is &uot;No Respect.&uot;

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer and a regular columnist for the News-Herald. She can be contacted at 934-9615 or via e-mail: evelyn.wall@suffolknewsherald.