Feb 082004
Authors: J.J. Babb

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.

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