Black breast white kiss?

According to Powell, Justin Timberlake's exposure of Janet Jackson's right breast during the closing moments of the halftime show "wasn't even the most offensive part." Powell claims that "the whole performance was onstage copulation."

Onstage copulation? Isn't that the definition of "music video?" Apparently Mr. Powell is unfamiliar with most of the MTV oeuvre.

Was the halftime show unsuitable for the millions of small children watching? Sure. But so are half the shows on prime-time television. And more importantly, the First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." How, then, can the FCC impose fines on the halftime performers and broadcasters, as it has threatened to do?

The late Justice Hugo Black, who fashioned himself a First Amendment absolutist, liked to dismiss arguments for censorship by waving the Constitution and exclaiming that "'no law' means no law." But his brethren did not agree, and so, notwithstanding the First Amendment, Jackson, Timberlake and the broadcasters may indeed find themselves in hot water.
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Jackson. That name again. But let me roll back a bit. I was preparing a language course the other day, when I came across an article talking about the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake incident. During the Superbowl's half-time events, Timberlake had ripped off Jackson's bustier toward the end of their raunchy number, revealing her right breast. This BBC article further tells us that
During the half-time show, Timberlake reached out and grabbed at Jackson's leather bustier, forcing her to cover herself up* before the stage lights were quickly dimmed.

CBS said officials had watched rehearsals and had no indication of the nature of the performance during the half-time show.

And NFL officials were also angry at what had happened during the broadcast, watched by millions of families.*
The language course I was preparing was going to be about harassment and America's First Amendment. I decided to use the article as an additional angle, a different way of looking at how the First Amendment deals with harassment. For example, doesn't it duct-tape the mouth of the harasser, thereby denying him or her of their right to free expression? Nevertheless, I went digging for more material.

I stumbled onto the Madonna/Britney/Christina tongue kiss performance of "Like a Virgin." Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were dressed in white, "like virgins," while Madonna was dressed in black leather. The latter first gave Britney Spears an open-mouth kiss, then gave same to Christina Aguilera. An excerpt from CBS News says,
Twenty years after the first MTV Video Music Awards, and not much has changed — Madonna still makes jaws drop and cheeks blush.

Just like her first time, the superstar upstaged everyone at the 20th annual MTV Video Music Awards, only she had help Thursday night from the latest generation of video divas, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

Proving they've come a long way from their Mouseketeer days, the young pop tarts gave a gyrating, writhing tribute to Madonna to open the show. Dressed in the same kind of white bustier wedding dress Madonna wore while performing "Like a Virgin" during MTV's inaugural awards broadcast in 1984, Spears and Aguilera sang a cover of the not-so-innocent tune.

Then, while Madonna sang her new "Hollywood" in a masculine, all-black groom's outfit*, she shared an openmouthed kiss with both Aguilera and Spears*. The two smooches rivaled the Michael Jackson-Lisa Marie Presley kiss at the awards in 1994 on the shock meter.
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Jackson, there's that name again. I have not seen the Michael Jackson/Lisa Marie Presley kiss, but I wonder what it was like, for it to reach such heights on the shock meter. It is of course clearer than a bell to me why the three-girl kiss went up the same meter. The same goes for Janet Jackson's peek-a-boob. USA Today, among others, says that
It was the climax of an opening number that began with Spears and Aguilera, both in bridal attire, crooning Like a Virgin, the hit performed by Madonna at the first VMAs. But it was ultimately stolen by Madonna herself, by comparison a model of old-school glamour and class, even in a modified groom's outfit that made her resemble a well-heeled dominatrix.
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Full stop. I discovered with stupor that there actually weren't that many journalists who had thought and written articles to the effect that it is bad to have three girls tongue-kissing on a show that is more than mainly for kids. Two girls is bad, too. A boy and a girl isn't all that great, either. On the other hand, there are quite a few articles that trash Janet's peek-a-boob, although we learn that it wasn't rehearsed and that she immediately covered it and that the cameras immediately zoomed onto something else. What gives? The Jackson name or the racist question? You decide. Whatever it is, it sucks. The trio of girls is actually praised in many of the articles, while the duo of boy/girl is heavily trashed, and required to apologise, for starters, then to pay a fine.

Don't take my word for it. Read a few of the articles yourself. You will most probably agree with me. Here are some accolades for the trio:

MADONNA and Britney Spears stole the show at the MTV Video Music Awards when they shared an open-mouthed kiss on stage.

Spears said she was surprised that the lip-lock garnered so much buzz -- and that the moment was more than a quick peck.

But the trio did have a surprise in store. Madonna had come as the man—the sugar daddy, maybe, twirling the little girls, keeping them in line, and finally kissing Spears. She also kissed Aguilera, to be fair, but the camera barely registered it, and we all know that Madonna has long leered at Britney. Britney swooned into the kiss, her mouth soft.

Britney Spears has revealed that her mother was not upset by her daughter sharing an open-mouthed kiss with Madonna at the MTV Music Video Awards.

The kiss proved to be a real showstopper in last month's awards ceremony, with 21-year-old Spears' former boyfriend Justin Timberlake watching dumbfounded from the audience.

And some jeers for the duo:

Powell said he was watching the game Sunday evening with his two children and found the incident "outrageous."

"I knew immediately it would cause great outrage among the American people, which it did," he said, citing "thousands" of complaints received by Monday morning. "We have a very angry public on our hands."

CBS may ask that Jackson and Justin Timberlake be banned from the Grammys if the network concludes the musicians actually intended to give Jackson the extra exposure, said a network executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl," Federal Communications Commission chief Michael Powell--son of Secretary of State Colin Powell--said in a statement issued on Monday (2/2). "Like millions of Americans, my family and I were gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt."

Most Americans think the exposure of Janet Jackson's right breast during the Super Bowl halftime show was crass, but few believe it's a federal case.

Justin Timberlake has apologised after ripping off Janet Jackson's top and exposing her right breast at the end of her live Super Bowl half time performance.

Janet Jackson's boobylicious performance with Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl halftime show has sparked a federal investigation and set new standards for raunch in an entertainment industry that seems to be setting new highs — or lows every day.

* The italics and the asterisk are mine, and serve to bring out what I find controversial, or important toward a better understanding of the discrepancy I find in these two similar yet different matters.

Freedom is indeed an elusive concept,and one that is also hard to describe. I think that every man and woman who is truly free feels it, feels the liberty, and the one who is not free also feels the non-liberty, so to speak. It is describing it that is hard. One can make a list of little freedoms to describe the parent concept, but there's always that grey area. It is one of the reasons the subject of the American First Amendment vs. Harassment intrigued me, and got me doing research for a course. In the particular cases of the trio and duo, isn't the former freer than the latter? Why are so many people gunning for the man/woman duo who showed a girl's breast, and bravoing the same-sex trio who tongue-kissed?