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Did a slip of the nip launch Bush's ship?


Or that's the way the headline would have run if Frank Rich's latest bit of cultural pseudo-analysis had appeared in the Post instead of the Times.

This repressive cultural environment was officially ratified on
Nov. 2, when Ms. Jackson's breast pulled off its greatest coup of all: the re-election of President Bush. Or so it was decreed by the media horde that retroactively declared "moral values" the campaign's decisive issue and the Super Bowl the blue states' Waterloo. The political bosses of "family" organizations, well aware that TV's collective wisdom becomes reality whether true or not, have been emboldened ever since. They are spending their political capital like drunken sailors, redoubling their demands that the Bush administration marginalize gay people, stamp out sex education and turn pop culture into a continuous loop of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."

Okay, wait a sec. Let's examine the "wave of self-censorship" that has supposedly swept over our culture since last year's Superbowl halftime scandal.

In the past year, we've seen:

  • The wildly successful launch of "Desperate Housewives," one of the raciest shows ever to find its way into a network prime-time lineup.
  • The acceptance of the word "omnisexual" into both the American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • The publication of an ABC News survey in which 42 percent of adult Americans described themselves as "sexually adventurous."
  • New York State's award of $30,000 in damages to 15-year-old Natalie Young after she was "wrongfully" suspended from school for wearing a t-shirt with the slogan, "Barbie is a Lesbian."
  • The emergence of blogger Washingtonienne, a Senate staffer who outed the sexual exploits of many of her political colleagues before she was finally fired.

Pace Mr. Rich, I think the bluestockings barely made a dent in our "girls-gone-wild culture" in 2004.

Of course, it's become a liberal shibboleth that a conservative administration automatically ushers in an assault on the First Amendment and a trampling of civil liberties. (The brouhaha over the infamous Meese Commission Report now seems almost, well, quaint.)

But, for all the fuss, you won't find many writers, artists or bloggers rotting away in jail cells, at least in this country.

Last time I checked, four out of the top ten best-selling singles on the Apple Music Store featureed a parental advisory—including number one, "Candy Shop" by rapper 50 Cent, and number two, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by punk revivalists Green Day.

And if "moral values" really triumphed in the 2004 election, then how did this prom dress become one of the hottest sellers nationwide? (It's fairly begging for a wardrobe malfunction.)

Does Mr. Rich seriously imagine we could have any less sexual repression in America, short of adopting the mating habits of bonobo monkeys? Of course, he doesn't; this censorship nonsense is just another handy stick to beat The Evil Dubya with.

In fact, if there's any danger from the "repression" Mr. Rich describes, it's that it has been so ineffective in the face of our profoundly prurient culture as to invite widespread ridicule.

And hiring Paul McCartney to entertain at halftime, unfortunately, won't change a thing.

UPDATE: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers!

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus writes:

It wasn't what Jackson did that was offensive. It was what Timberlake did. Here was a massively popular, relatively hip singer whose message was that it was a hip, transgressive thing for men to rip clothes off women when they feel like it (which is quite often). I watched the game with a group of non-evangelical, non-moralistic dads who were uniformly horrified. The problem for them wasn't sex—their kids see flesh all the time in videos—but a form of sexism, not prudery but piggishness. Surely there are some types of behavior—homophobia, perhaps, or racism, or Republicanism—that even Frank Rich wouldn't want implicitly endorsed during a telecast watched by most of the country's teens and pre-teens. Yet the press has effectively recast this complicated issue as an uncomplicated case of "Nipple-gate," of blue-noses overreacting to the sight of a breast. No wonder red staters respond negatively when New Yorkers call them simplistic.

It's the same sort of piggishness that we find in the lyrics of rappers like 50 Cent, Eminem and Kid Rock. And, for that matter, the same sort General Mattis was talking about when spoke of "guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil." Why so-called feminists aren't more outraged by this sort of stuff is deeply puzzling. Is it because to criticize it would put them on the same side as The Evil Dubya?

Posted by Rodger on February 5, 2005 at 01:45 PM | Permalink


Very good points.

And I just noticed the virtual moonbat...awesome--just got it for my site.

FROM THE BLOGDESK: I love the moonbat too. I find I never tire of his little rants—and they save me having to surf all those left-wing blogs.

Posted by: Jeremy | Feb 5, 2005 2:08:04 PM

Just a point: the prom dress is a hoax. The woman in that photograph is wearing a fairly ordinary (and by all accounts ugly) open-backed prom dress backwards.

Posted by: Elf M. Sternberg | Feb 8, 2005 9:19:49 AM


"But let's talk more about technology. It seems that the porn industry is weighing in on the new high definition DVD standards. Well, that's good. The porn industry apparently helped drive the demand for VCRs and high speed internet. And what's even better is that the porn purveyors are in favor of the higher capacity DVD standard, called Blu-ray, which holds up to 50 gigs of data - that's 9 hours of High Def content. How cool is that.

But here's the fear. Will the system advocated by Big Porn win out, or will the frugality of dirty movie connoisseurs drive the technology by purchasing the cheaper, weaker HD-DVD format, which only holds 30 gigs. If it was the porn viewer who drove the widespread acceptance of the VCR, we can also blaming him (and it's usually a him) for opting for the cheaper, lower standard VHS system as opposed to the better picture, sound a size of Beta.

So, I'm siding with Big Porn on this one - as well as Sony, Philips, Thomson, Fox and Disney. Bring me Blu-ray and more content. An entire Star Wars trilogy on one DVD (but you'd still need two for Lord of the Rings - blast that Peter Jackson!).

And while you mull over this issue, consider this quote from the NY Times story: Adult film producers want the higher quality picture as well as extra space for creative expression -- like giving viewers choice of camera angles."

posted by Winston 11:27 AM

Posted by: blog responder | Sep 20, 2005 6:21:40 PM

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