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February 8, 2004

Levitra /Cialis Do Super Bowl / Janet Jackson: Best Media Porn of February ‘04

As the media, the NFL and the FCC work up mock outrage over Janet Jackson baring her breast during the MTV-produced Super Bowl half-time show, what the “costume malfunction that will go down in history” basically exposed is the hypocrisy of the media and sports establishment itself. America loves a little sex with its violence. And if it makes money, all the better. (After all, why should the porn industry make all the profits?)

If you we’re handing out post-game penalty flags,it would be hard to pick out exactly who to take the most yardage away from. Our top infractions go to the Bush Administration’s FCC as well as to CNN.

Two weeks after sneaking through a relaxation of the media ownership rules under cover of a stealthily-past Congressional spending bill, the FCC Chairman Michael Powell goes on TV fussing about the “questionable morals” of a half-time show that has generated a pr windfall of unprecedented value to his industry buddies.) By the way, the “powers that be” insist that Janet and Jason Timberlake engineered the strip stunt on their own, but how far does that wash? Janet was in bed with MTV, and MTV was in bed with the NFL and CBS, and CBS was in bed with the FCC, etc.

(By the way, did you happen to see the clip of President Bush waxing nostalgic about his favorite sports nostalgia? If nothing else, CBS deserves credit for leaving no passion unflamed.)

As you might have assumed, the other networks were all over the story, re-packaging it as hard news in order to get some ratings candy for themselves. (Call it the skin shot heard–and seen– ’round the world.) CNN’s Monday News Night program had what you would call “full coverage.” Commentator Jeff Greenfield’s piece was a typically blown call. Laying out the idea that the “Jackson moment” was just the tip of the sexual iceburg, Greenfied took the opportunity to show CNN viewers video clips of every sexually-seductive TV ad and CBS program promo the Super Bowl had to offer. Not surprisingly, however, he made no mention of what we consider, far and away, the most sexually exploitive aspect of the evening. We’re referring to The Erectile Dysfunction Bowl.

While the sanctimonious get up in arms about Janet Jackson’s anatomy, the prurient scandal of the evening was the use of the Super Bowl as a pretext for “direct-to-consumer” sexual drug advertising. In terms of the competition and dollars involved, Patriots versus Panthers couldn’t compare to the Levitra / Cialis match up. When you throw in traditional contender, Viagra, the market for male sexual performance drugs last year was approximately $1.3 billion.

At that scale, you can see how the sex drug commercials were the real players of the evening. And, with that kind of advertising money in play, you can understand how the broadcast’s most explicit content (Mike Ditka talking about his “special friend,” voice-overs warning about possible “prolonged” side effects) somehow caught Big Media looking the other way.

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