It was February 1st, 2004. I remember bits and pieces, sitting watching the spectacle in my living room. It was just me, my beloved wife, my son, and my poor, dear seventy year old grandmother. I think it was the Super Bowl. It might have been the World Series. I’m not sure. Innocently we watched the game on TV, then Jackson and Justin Timberlake appeared on the little screen to “entertain” us.
The rest of the night was a blur. The only thing I can truly remember is that image, forever burned into my retinas, blazing with the brightness of the mighty sun itself.
Less than a week later, grandma was dead, one of the first victims. One of the lucky ones, she did not have to witness the sudden and deep decline the next seven years would bring.
An estimated 140 million people saw it. The Federal Communications Commission received nearly 540,000 complaints, many of them from a single conservative watchdog group, the Parents Television Council. FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, called the incident a "classless, crass and deplorable stunt," ordering an investigation. Baseball coach, Tommy Lasorda, said it was "the most disgusting thing that I have ever seen at a sports spectacle."
Accusations and law suits followed. A lawyer from Utah, filed a suit against Viacom for "false advertising." The pre-game advertising led him to believe that the halftime show would consist of a patriotic celebration of marching bands and balloons
How appropriate it was, for Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), to weep during one of the many Congressional hearings held on incident. “You knew what you were doing,” she choked while questioning the president of Viacom." her brave voice cracking under the strain, “You knew…” Of course he did. Of course he did.
None of this would stop the inevitable downward spiral. The Super Bowl was one of the most watched television events each year, witnessed by a broad cross section of society, most notably, children …little, innocent, wide eyed children, forced to suffer devastating psychological trauma. As a result, years later, the world was populated with wild teen sex fiends with nipple ring fetishes, roaming the litter strewn streets, in search of glittering scraps of bronze.
The perpetrators of this fiendish act should have realized this would lead to the breakdown of the nuclear family. Everyone knows, we don’t get our basic moral values from our parents, and the people around us. We get our values from television, specifically, the Super Bowl.
.The destructive phenomena wasn’t isolated to the US either. In Spain it is called mal funcionamiento del guardarropa, in the Netherlands, garderobedefec. Here in America it has become known simply as the black death. We could not see the destruction heading our way. Imagine a bowling ball with a embedded rhinestone, sticking out of the hole one would normally insert one’s thumb. Now imagine that bowling ball launched from a cannon, and sailing straight towards your head.
We all know the events that followed - the riots, the wars, the food shortages, the endless runs on adult entertainment stores. I saw the writing on the wall, when so many concerned citizens crashed Jackson's official internet fan site. According to the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records it was the "Most Searched News Clip in Internet History". When a keystone to a fundamental social structure collapses (such as Janet Jacksons fan website) systemic failure of the entire matrix is inevitable. But can you blame citizens for wanting to witness the spectacle for themselves (out of concern for their children no doubt).
Has there ever been anything more threatening to hemispheric stability than the flash of a breast on television during a ballgame? Even the far reaching Department of Homeland Security (formed in response to the incident) was unable to curtail the events that followed. Some scientists even speculate that the Wardrobe Malfunction might somehow be directly linked to Global Climate Change.
I sit here; writing by candlelight, in what was once a great western city, now just crumbling ruins. I am alone. My wife was one of the first victims of the countless copycat corset accidents that followed. The last I saw of my son was a rainy night in 2006. Like so many parents after the incident, we fashioned bindings to prevent him from further injuring himself but after what he saw, the reinforced bindings were to no avail. He broke free of them, engorged by hormones and cascading waves of testosterone. He prowls the world unchecked now, more animal than human.
So why have I decided to commit this bleak description of the present to paper? I do this because despite all that has happened; I still have faith in the future. Call me naive, call me a Pollyanna, but I believe there is hope. I believe that Humanity might yet dig itself out of this abyss. And if, in the far, distant future, the time comes once again, when conservative pundits and talking heads are warning us about the newest controversy on radio or TV, (whether it is a debate over the lyrics of some new song or a flap over what a particular TV star wore to an award show), I want future generations, to know. Do not ignore the pundits. It is not a manufactured controversy of the day, to quickly be forgotten after the next news cycle. It is not phony moral outrage, motivated by profit or ideology. Heed my warning. These things matter. These things are important. These things change the world.
The FCC tried to levy millions in fines claiming “willful indecency violation.” Was it “willful?” Today some will not even speak her name, preferring instead “the Nipple that Shall not be Mentioned.” And yet I do not think Miss Jackson was willful. Hear me out. I know what you’re saying; how can she be innocent, when so many children and families where jolted by pure wickedness. But you see, I don’t believe any person could do that, could “willfully” condemn the entire human race to the future Hell in which we now find ourselves. She didn’t know what she was doing. She is after all a fellow human being, right...but then again, so was Judas.