As Janet Jackson makes headlines with her ‘Super Bowl stunt’
America cries out in shock at the raunchiousness of the halftime
show. Debates rage over whether the disrobing of Janet’s breast was
planned, an accident or a publicity stunt and everyone takes a
stand blaming someone else. During this blame game, one thing is
clear; Americans do not want to see nudity on prime-time or
‘family-time’ television. This demand is reasonable, yet the
majority of responsibility falls on us, the viewers.
It seems hilarious to me that suddenly nudity on television
comes to the forefront of people’s minds because Janet Jackson
bares her breast at the Super Bowl. Every day hundreds of sexually
explicit comments, blurred out nudity, violent acts and bleeped-out
obscenities litter our television screens. While some of these
instances add to the show such as in CSI, or Saturday Night Live,
many of them are unnecessary.
According to “Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in
American Society,” by Huston, A.C., et. Al, the average 18-year-old
will have viewed 200,000 acts of violence on television. And we’re
worried about one breast in a half-time show?
Maybe an event like the Super Bowl stunt is what was needed for
Americans to wake up and notice the nudity, sex and violence they
and their children are exposed to daily. Just turn on MTV, “Jerry
Springer” or NBC’s “Fear Factor” and tell me, there is not an
equally blatant sexual message as Janet’s one breast being exposed
in every five minutes of programming.
The government is attempting to police our television for us as
the FCC tries to tighten restrictions and force fines on
broadcasters’ indecency. Whether you agree with this or not, it
shouldn’t have to happen. We are adults, we are the parents of the
youth and we have control of the remote.
When 56 percent of children ages 8-16 have their own television
in their bedrooms (Anneberg Public Policy Center, 2000. Media in
the Home 2000) and children ages 2-7 watch 81 percent of their
television viewing alone and unsupervised (Kaiser Family
Foundation, 1999), it is clear the problems’ base lays in the
Just because a show is aired on television or just because a
movie is released does not mean one must view it or allow his or
her children to view it. But obviously people don’t believe this as
they ‘must make it home in time to watch ____’ and plan schedules
around television programming. In fact children spend 123 minutes
more watching TV than time spent in school during an average year
according to Nielsen Media Research, 2000. It is time for this to
change. TV is not of life or death importance, and missing a show
or game will not change your life.
Let Janet Jackson’s ‘accidental disrobing’ be an eye opener for
us all. This stuff is out there, and public outcry against it is
not enough. We must do something about it. As our government fights
to tighten restrictions and increase fines, we must do something
Turn off the TV. Don’t buy products supporting this type of
trash. Hire a babysitter instead of using the television. And
please encourage your kids to play with friends and outside instead
of being a couch potato.
J.J. is the design managing editor for The Collegian. She has
written columns on breast feeding and domestic violence.