What's up with breasts on TV?

To hear the media outcry about the Superbowl JT/JJ episode, you’d think someone had gone on a shooting spree at the game, not that some woman’s breast, which was covered up anyway, got a bit of air time.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my experience, US television is happy to broadcast video footage of car smashes, gunfights etc at prime time, so why the sudden outbreak of prudish morality at the sight of a tit?

What gives?

We have had naked people, including women (with breasts), on free to air TV since the 1970s in Australia. We even had a gay lead character in the same show.

Well, here are my reasons for being a little upset:

  1. The audience. Super Bowl reaches a mass audience, consisting of young children and conservative elements of US society, who may not be aware of what goes on on MTV. It’s best that they don’t know.
  2. Time of day. The FCC has strict rules regarding “indecent” programming before 10PM. If you’re going to try such a stunt, do it after 10PM.
  3. It’s an attempt to upstage the game itself. Which is why the NFL will never allow MTV to do the halftime show again.

My point was that it wasn’t even in any way indecent. The naughty bits were covered over. You see more flesh than that in a city park on a hot day.

I put the word indecent in quotation marks because that’s how FCC defines material that shouldn’t be shown before 10PM. Per MSNBC article:

The fact is breasts have been shown on US television before, but not in an entertainment context. I guess then it’s considered exploitation and bad taste.

Personally, I’m not against seeing breasts on TV per se. I’m against Janet Jackson exposing her boob as a publicity stunt to upstage the Super Bowl and revive her slumping career.

Americans accept a certain amount of violence on broadcast TV, but don’t like sex. Europeans accept a certain amount of sex but don’t like violence.

Who’s right, who’s wrong? Who knows?

I have to point out that I didn’t actually see the flashing so I don’t know what really was or wasn’t seen. r_k thinks it was covered up, a lot of people I know don’t think so. The CBS network, which broadcast the Super Bowl, obviously that it wasn’t covered up enough.

As someone pointed out in another thread, movies (where you have to pay to get in, and where the management can presumably screen out the too-young) go through great negotiations to determine what can and can’t be shown and said to get a certain rating. We Americans like our nipples, but having one thrown at us when we don’t expect it is bound to upset more than a few people.

I’ve heard it said that this aversion to nudity is a lingering result of the country being founded by puritans. I guess it’s possible.

Whether we like violence or not is irrelevant: we still get all the US shows, full of mayhem as they are, and a fair bit of home-grown mayhem too. We just don’t censor the nudity as much.

That’s not to say there is no moral guideline. For example, there’s a 9-o’clock “watershed” in the UK, before which things are meant to be kept relatively clean, and after which there’s a laissez-faire attitude to program content, including nudity, bad language, and violence.

However, I think the reason for our bemusement at the reaction is that, even if a cheeky breast did pop up in daytime programming or during a sports event, the attitude would be one of amusement rather than moral outrage*. The only people writing letters would be little old ladies in retirement homes.

*I refer you for an example to the massive and joyful celebrity enjoyed by one Ms Erica Roe, who streaked at the Rugby in 1982. NSFW links, so google her yourself!

You call this covered up? (note: nudity)

I think that had Ms. Jackson’s breast cheekily popped up all by itself our attitude would have been one of amusement as well.

However, MTV is now claiming that Jackson intended all along to do something shocking. MSN | Outlook, Office, Skype, Bing, Breaking News, and Latest Videos It’s the deliberate attempt to try and shock the audience at an inappropriate place and time that has people upset, more than the actual sight of a breast, that has people in an uproar.

Not really. The Puritans took a fairly relaxed attitude toward sex. The Puritans invented bundling, and considered any child born after six months of marriage as legitimate.

It was the Victorian era where sex and nudity became so shocking. Other countries outgrew that, but the US has not.

I think that most Americans genuinely don’t give a rat’s ass if there’s a boob on TV. It’s just that the people who do have a problem with it are very, very vocal.

There is a percentage of the populace of the United States who feel that all matters related to sex should be seen/heard/discussed only in a darkened bedroom, between a man and a woman, under the sheets, in the classic missionary position. :rolleyes: The rest of us shrug and don’t think it’s a big deal.

The problem is that the first group is very vocal, so even though it’s uncertain how many of them are in the country, they’ll raise a big stink whenever something like this happens. And in an effort to appease them and court their votes (like I said, nobody knows how many of these people are really out there), our politicians tend to react in the same shocked-and-outraged manner when they start mewing, because that’s the politically safe thing to do.

It is hoped this juvenile portion of the United States will grow up someday. :wink:

It wasn’t just the nipple. It was the sexual tone of the whole performance that was objectionable. For those out there who do want to see bump-and-grind dancing and displays of flesh, there are plenty of outlets. But to those who (for whatever reason) wish to keep that kind of material away from their kids, the display was highly objectionable. While a lot of the brouhaha may be due to old-fashioned American Puritanism, at least part of it is a reaction to the encroachment of adult material into an occasion that is supposed to be family friendly.

One of the “easter eggs” in the Extended Edition DVD of The Fellowship of the Ring was MTV’s parody of the Council of Elrond. I grew up with MTV, but haven’t watched it for a number of years, so I guess I was rather naive in thinking that there wouldn’t be anything in it that I would have a problem with my four year old daughter seeing. I knew there’d be adult humor, but figured it would all be miles above her head. So I put it on with my daughter in the room, and found myself pretty pissed off when Jack Black dropped his trousers. I turned it off immediately. That was over a year ago, and still, each time we watch the movie, my daughter asks if “that man is going to come out and pull down his pants.” Now I’m not going to say that any severe psychological damage was done to my daughter by her witnessing some clown mooning the camera. But I really would rather not have her thinking at her age that men exposing themselves in public is to be thought of as humor. If I had seen any warning on the DVD as to what kind of material was in the scene, I would would at least have previewed it before deciding whether or not my daughter should see it.

The same is true of Janet and Justin’s little stunt. Ordinarily, I think I have a pretty healthy attitude towards nudity. In fact, I think there should be more of it on TV. But in its proper time and place. The television industry has lobbied for years to have censorship standards relaxed, insisting (quite rightly) that it is up to parents to police what their children watch. Fair enough. But sexing up the Superbowl halftime show is a slap in the face of parents who do their best to be responsible about what their kids see, but aren’t sufficiently clairvoyant to predict the appropriateness of every program.

Same for the US. If something contains bad language, violence or nudity during Prime Time it’s supposed to be accompanied by a descriptive warning.

I know. The Europeans are right, dammit.

I cannot stand this uproar much longer. It’s absolutely mad. It’s a breast, it’s just a part of someone’s body, it wasn’t hurting anybody. The idea that children might be irreparably damaged by seeing a part of the human body on television just doesn’t seem right to me. It seems that the programming kids have received about the body is what’s the most damaging. The idea that people are shocked just shows that the ploy was effective - Janet was able to get a hell of a lot of attention because we’re too uptight to take a breast and like it.

Forgive me for blowing a little steam here; I’ve been hearing about this all week and it’s only getting more ridiculous as the minutes pass.

Quote by Walloon:

I’m wondering, all these really clear and distinct pictures circulating around the net of Janet’s exposed breast, are they ACTUAL footage that was aired on TV or are they close up photos from 3rd party cameras and/or computer enhanced freeze frames of the actual footage?

I saw an .mpeg of the originally aired broadcast and I couldn’t see Janet’s breast that clearly, definitely couldn’t see the nipple tassle/ring thing. Could be due to mpeg compression or course, or just bad original quality of the soruce the mpeg was created from.

I am 99% sure that, given the exact same circumstances, the reaction would still be one of amusement (again, I refer you to Erica Roe).

The photos are still photographs taken by professional still photographers at the stadium. They have much better resolution than screen captures from the video image.

BTW, I’m curious about your use of the term “third party” camera. What would a “second party” camera be?

For some people the issue isn’t a little bit of exposed skin. If JJ had just popped out of her tight top the reaction, if any, would probably have been mild amusement. What rankles is that a man–a celebrity pop star–was shown ripping off a woman’s clothes. Considering how many professional athletes have been charged with assault, domestic abuse, rape and even murder, this was not something anybody wanted to see, or wanted their kids to see, during a football game.