Copyright 2004 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner                                                           February 19, 2004

                                        The Boob Tube

   It's been two weeks since Janet Jackson had her breast exposed during
the Superbowl half-time show, and the flap that caused has pretty much died
down.  I think it was all just a family plot, designed to take the heat of the
media spotlight off of her brother Michael for a spell, or perhaps Janet was
just jealous of all the attention and coverage he was getting, and decided to
uncover to grab more exposure for herself and her new album.  I don't care;
none of it seems important enough to be real "news" to me.  Did anyone
hear, there's a rebellion going on in Haiti, attempting to remove the current
government?  Oh, never mind, let's watch Fear Factor.
    I don't understand what all the fuss was about, endless shock,
apologies, and commentary about one more boob on the television tube.
Hubby and I were actually watching the Superbowl, which we almost never
do, and we both missed the actual event; if the half-time show had been
something interesting, such as a precision drill team or a co-ordinated
demonstration by several marching bands playing an ensemble piece, I
might have been looking at the TV instead of polishing my fingernails.  The
singer who showed up on stage wearing an American flag as a poncho
surprised me a bit, and, when I looked again, I spotted the flag in a crumpled
heap on the floor of the drummer's rise.  When I was in high school, wearing
anything as flag-like as blue jeans and a red-and-white striped shirt would
have gotten you stomped into the ground by patriotic jocks, vigilant for any
hint of disrespect.  Compared to seeing a flag on the floor during the
ultimate American spectacle, a nearly-naked breast barely seems worth
    The sheer hypocrisy of the prevailing attitude toward women's breasts
on television (and in American society in general) annoys me; why should
Victoria's Secret commercials and "fashion shows," so-called "news" stories
about the release of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition, and shows like
Baywatch be business as usual, but one exposed breast throws the network
into a tizzy?  Why is it forbidden to show a bare nipple, but fine to wear knit
clothing so tight that observers can make a fair guess about the ambient
temperature by observing the actresses' frontal bumps?  With all the
plunging necklines and exposed cleavage, what difference would a couple
more square inches of flesh make?
     The answer might lie in another sort of boob tube, specifically, the
baby bottle.  There are societies where mothers have no choice but to breast-
feed their children; everyone goes "topless," and no one thinks anything of
it, but the women keep their legs covered to the ankles, lest they be
considered immodest.  Everyone in those cultures is familiar with the sight
of the female breast in all its shapes and stages, so there is no mystery and
no fascination connected to it.
     With the modern convenience of bottle-feeding, we have literally lost
sight of the actual function of the breast, turning it from a source of nutrition
for children into nothing but a sex-toy for adults.  After several generations
of bottle-babies, is it any wonder that people in our culture are obsessed by
that portion of the female anatomy with which, under other conditions dating
back to the dawn of time, they would have had years' worth of intimate
acquaintance?  Why can mud wrestling and wet T-shirt contests be shown
on television, but breast-feeding a baby cannot?  How have our notions of
what is "decent" become so skewed?
     How much less entertaining breasts would be, also, if women, like
men, could go topless in public.  Never mind the Playboy ideal of over-
inflated perfection that dominates male minds stuck at a middle-school
maturity level; let's see how long Junior can maintain his fascination with a
fantasy once he gets used to the sight of Gramps and Granny out in the yard
together, working on their lawn, both dressed in nothing but Bermuda shorts,
black socks, and sandals.  A trip to the beach would be an educational field
trip for a physics class, to demonstrate the effects of gravity.
    Get over it, folks.  We're mammals, and mammals have mammaries,
whether encased in spandex, plastered with pasties, or totally exposed.  Just
because you might think they have a high play factor doesn't mean that your
waitress at any restaurant besides Hooters wants you to direct your order to
her chest.  Pretending that you're shocked and scandalized by a glimpse of
nipple while accepting that the rest of the popular culture does its best to
titillate customers by tantalizing them with everything but the tip of the
iceberg is disingenuous, if not downright dishonest.  Vote with your remote:
if you don't like it, turn it off.  They don't call it the boob tube for nothing.

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