Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Wanna see my breasts, or would you prefer I kill you instead?

Like many millions I was watching the Super Bowl last Sunday and watching the ‘in-between the action’ commercials also. As we all know the commercials are now as much a part of the show as the game.

Prior to the game the air time was filled with the history of Super Bowls and even the history of the best commercials.

There was also much talk about the now infamous Janet Jackson show of her breast during the halftime show (I think it was two years ago?)

In the US this wardrobe malfunction incident was met with a great deal of hand wringing and many people worrying over the demise of our society as well as a great grieving over the never to be recovered innocence of the American child.
OK, fine.
I don’t have a big problem with telling Janet Jackson that no one is actually interested in her breasts at halftime. From my viewpoint, a breast is just a breast, they are not loaded (except perhaps with silicone) and they are not really dangerous. I have never had one explode in my face or pierce my flesh or create paralyzing nightmares; and I have seen a lot of them, so I am qualified to speculate on their danger level. Still, like most people I’m not necessarily interested in Janet’s, though it appeared she mistakenly felt this was a very nice gift to all of us. I viewed the whole incident as silly and remarkably egocentric on her part.

So, like I said, I was watching the game and the commercials Sunday when the movie trailer for
Mission Impossible III was set loose on millions of living rooms.

Time for another disclaimer. I have no quarrel with the movie Mission Impossible III.

I am perplexed however by this; these are the words of dialogue actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman spoke to goodness knows how many children ears and minds on Sunday:

“You have a wife or girlfriend? Whoever she is I’m going to find her. I’m gonna hurt her.....and I’m gonna kill YOU right in front of her....”

Here is a link to the Super Bowl trailer.

I spent a part of my life in law enforcement, often working crime scenes where the products of murder were in front of my eyes, and you never forget these scenes. I tell you this to let you know I am not easily spooked by bad people or evil actions; only saddened.

I do believe our children can be scared by these things. In fact I not only believe they can be, I believe they are. Mr. Hoffman, who is an excellent actor was speaking these words in an matter of fact and threatening manner. Quick cut to Tom Cruise off to save the day.

Can a small child discern and separate all this?

Is this scarier to a child than the sight of Janet Jackson’s breast? I’m betting any common ignoramus can work that question through.

When I opened the newspapers and internet news on Monday morning I did not see one single solitary word of concern or protest about this movie dialogue, yet when Janet showed us her harmless breast in a display of ego and poor judgement the US went off it’s collective rocker in a fit of social apoplexy.

But then we get this, we tell the children menacingly “I am going to find your wife and hurt her...and I am going to kill YOU in front of her”....and not a peep of questioning as to whether this was an appropriate decision by ABC?

For me, I think it is ABC’s responsibility to think on a higher plane, but also a larger sign of a collective culture’s lost consciousness about the difference between a harmless body part and the act of murder.

I repeat that I have no quarrel with Mission Impossible III or Mr. Hoffman, his acting is an art and a gift to be shared. I do have a quarrel with our collective culture’s level of awareness.

What do you think?


Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Oh don't get me started. Our culture is SO screwed up....it makes me crazy. They scream and hollar over a boob but then go out and buy their kids video games where you can pick up a hooker and then blow her brains out. WTF???

I have a friend from France and it's AMAZING the difference in the way they raise their children over there....it's so much more laid back...so MANY things we consider "taboo", they don't...therefore it seems they don't have the problems we have over here with kids.

It's more involved than that...but you get what I'm saying.

Crazy....just crazy.

Seven said...

Agreed, this whole violence and sex in the culture phenomena has become a tornado of confusion and disconnect with meaningful values. Thanks for the comment Lady Stacy.

Jenn said...

This came up in a parent/child class I go to - well, sort of...it was more about 'should kids watch TV before age 2' than murder but along the same lines.

I suggested that parents seem to go along to get along (I said it better in the class) and maybe if we stopped and actually paid attention to what was good and what was bad for kids - we could make a difference in what happens in our kids' lives.

Hmmmm. There's a thought. I got some nods and perpelexed looks. It was as if nobody wanted to be the one to start such a revolution.

One mother even said she liked the idea but she wouldn't be interested in being the one to 'rock the boat'. ?????

We live in a fairly child-controlled world and many parents are very busy and it's easier to let their kids have what they want to make them happy - immediate gratification.

Combine that with the media/networks' insane drive to market anything and everything that will make them money - and we've set ourselves up for disaster.

And I don't mean a booby show.

Jenn said...

I realize I responded more to Stacy's comment than to your post.

Obviously, I have no attention span whatsoever.

I do agree with you - we should be more responsible - and realistic - as a society.

A breast is a breast. That, to me, would be far easier to explain to my daughter than the murder threat.

In fact, it probably wouldn't have affected my daughter at all to see Janet Jackson's boob for a few seconds. It's a body part to her, like her foot or ear. (I realize not all parents teach that.)

Seven said...

Thanks Jenn
I am convinced sanity still exists among us....good to know sanity has a home there with you.

Grant said...

I've always thought this country had strange priorities about what it considered taboo - violence is okay, sex needs to be restricted, and flatulence is totally verboten.

At the same time, I can identify (a little) with some of the people who got upset. In particular, I remember one church who was showing the game to a youth group. Even though I don't agree with their concerns, they should be able to put on a football game without worrying about them violating broadcast regs.

a fish on a bycicle said...

Ms Jackson's booby versus Mr Hoffman - CAN'T people tell the difference between reality and fiction?

Memphis Steve said...

They put much more harmful things than that guy's threat in children's movies all the time. It isn't one simple thing that's a symptom of our society's problems. It's all of it. All of it together is a symptom of a much deeper problem within.

Robert Shapiro said...

Thank you my friend for your comments on the seduction of artificial violence. Artificial violence has been justified in the past by some who say, "It's an outlet. It lets people release their passions harmlessly."
You and I know that while this may be true for some people that this particular seduction is being sent out to the vast audience without regard to how healthy they are in mind or body.
I believe it is a very good thing to bring these matters up and inquire of your reading public what they think and to encourage such discussions. We may not be able to change this kind of marketing in any immediate time soon but the more it is discussed and the more people support, nurture and encourage more benevolent programing and desire it just as lighthearted comedies or interesting subjects with minimal violence are embraced and do well at the box office so we will find that it may be possible to experience public events as something that is strictly enjoyable as a viewer.
Of course we cannot overlook the fact that the thing that's being celebrated at the Superbowl, and I am a football fan, is a conflict. Granted the people are somewhat protected but there are constant injuries in this sport and many times I believe that the athletes are taught at a young age that their suffering is part of the game. I feel that suffering really - as it is reinforced in such ways - is it really a game? That's my question for you.

Seven said...

Yes I know that some people have a real concern over body parts, my mother is one of those with concerns and the best I am able to tell that concern is really really real for her.
It's difficult to know if the broadcaster that day was in on the Jackson deal or if she just lost her common sense. I don't know.

Seven said...

Hi Colin,
Yes I think probably 97% of viewers fit the profile of those able to distinguish the difference; and they makes you essentially correct. My concern on this one is for the small ones between, oh say 4 - 10 years old. Having raised a couple (mine are grown now) I know that sometimes the little ones don't come to you and say they are scared; they just internalize the fear. Believe me, sometimes they drop it on you years later that this or that scared them or skewed their thinking and it's the first time you've heard it! Perhaps I might be overly concerend about the 3% we are discussing, but they are important.
I know we can tell them this is real and this is pretend, but they don't always raise their hands and ask for an explanation.

Seven said...

It is very confusing and I know it's way deeper than most of us can dig; guess I'm simultaneously looking to create exposure for the child's view and just flat out ranting my frustration with our society's odd view of things.

Seven said...

Always peeling off another layer of the onion and looking deeper than the rest of us; that's a good thing for us all.
I have said to friends that one Sunday someone is going to die on an NFL playing field. Not be hurt, I'm talking dead and it will happen.
I know you are looking for far more serious examination on my part and I am going to do so.
Do the networks compete against one another for the right to call themselves No.1 as football teams do? Does this sense of contest guide us each and every day and the presence of violence is merely another form of contest between men; like football that the US adores?

Reach said...

Thank you for your kind comments. I decided to visit your thoughts, here on your site, and I am inclined to return due to your issues.
Though I am a fan of the Super Bowl, Football is a well organized violent sport. The spectacular hits, crashes, and bodily torture are a thing of entertainment for many, me included. In addition, yes, the Commercials are an attraction and not necessarily in that order.
The child will see and learn from us, that violence is acceptable as long as it follows a form of rules. The message of the Mission Impossible III commercial is, and recognized by most children, fake or at least a movie and not “real life.”
What gets me, and I think is the thought you are presenting, is the fact that “real life” violence, in any form, is acceptable, and any form that relates to the exposure of the human body is taboo.
Though I admire the players, and hate to see them injured, the media will replay, and replay again, those times when a player is extremely injured. Should a bone visibly break before the cameras, we the viewing public will see it for weeks following the event. On the other hand, should one breast become unsupported, we the public will require all video banning of the event and a direct apology from the network President.
What does that say about our society? It is a shame that our free Nation will readily except the violence, and openly object to a “costume malfunction”.
As for the viewing of breasts, I am in complete agreement with Ron “Tater Salad” White. If you are not aware, please watch the movie “Blue Collar Comedy Tour”.


Seven said...

Excellent thoughts well constructed. Thanks

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