Look, this is modern America, OK? Who are we trying to kid with all this outrage about a little booby trap at the Super Bowl?
Sex sells, and selling is all that matters. We are big money; we are conspicuous consumption; we are breast implants and erection pills. And if you're some kind of Islamic fundamentalist who gets offended by that, well, we're liable just to haul off and bomb the daylights out of one of your secular leaders.
But sex sells only if you take it a little farther than the last porn singing star, if I may use a redundant phrase. And when what she pulled off was a public tongue exchange with that other old girl, after which she got married for a few hours, what are you supposed to do?
Well, there's violence. The bombing of Baghdad got pretty good ratings. So, you know, maybe instead of just taking it off, or starting off without it, you could have this guy rip it off.
At this rate the next reality show will determine which celebrity dilettante can survive sex with wildlife in the Arkansas hills up around Altus. Maybe someone found that sentence offensive. I would remind you that I am trying to write about modern America.
Whoever called ours a conservative society oriented to family values must have been drunk, drugged-out or preoccupied by teen porn on the Internet. Here's the deal: If you are CBS, MTV, or the NFL, then you know full well what you're getting when you hire Janet Jackson. And surely you sense that there's nothing more envelope-pushing than a sleaze merchant trying at 37 to cling to 27. No doubt you are fully aware that she has a new CD coming out and that the promoter has promised that it will be sexier than ever.
I happened to catch part of a Janet Jackson concert on HBO a year or two ago. Halfway through it she stripped down to near nothing, grabbed a guy out of the second row, tied him to a propped-up gurney, climbed aboard him and did everything but wind up pregnant.
They tell she used to do that very thing in all her concerts. They tell me she did it at the Alltel Arena in North Little Rock a couple of years ago. They tell me the lucky boy at the Alltel plainly mouthed on the big screen the four-letter word conveying the carnal overture he desperately wished to extend to her, and that she was plainly charmed.
So, the TV executives pick this very Janet Jackson for the big half-time extravaganza in prime time. Then the football executives sign off on it. Fearful that she might not provide sufficient vulgarity, they opt to supplement her with assorted crotch-grabbers. Then they turn loose this kid with a weird name to sing his big hit about how he's going to get the girl naked before the last verse.
Then the TV and football executives profess shock, outrage - and, most of all, thorough innocence - when the boy who sang that he was going to get her in a clothesless condition - one to which she is historically predisposed - ended up doing pretty nearly that.
This is all our doing.
The night before the Super Bowl, I watched an executive with NFL Films tell an interviewer that Americans obsess on the Super Bowl because it showcases all the things we love: violence, celebrity and noise. Well, he enumerated one other thing I can't recall. It might have been sex. But it might have been a television commercial about a flatulent horse setting a woman's face and hair on fire.