As an extreme example of the prudery in the USA, there is the Janet Jackson incident. At the Super Bowl halftime show on 1st February 2004, her right breast was briefly seen on TV. The US public and press went to town and gave an excellent demonstration of their dreadful prudery.
Jackson had an invitation to perform at the 2004 Grammy Awards cancelled and a lawsuit was filed by one Terri Carlin “on behalf of all American citizens who watched the outrageous conduct.”. The lawsuit was dropped but the incident also triggered other legal action.
This action resulted in fines for companies involved with the broadcast. Even the law was changed, the Federal Communications Commission is now able to fine up to $500,000 per violation instead of the original maximum of $27,500. Europeans reported this and took the opportunity to laugh at America’s expense.
A typical report said “How reassuring to the rest of the world that the U.S. has its priorities straight. We, the poorly informed old Europeans, wouldn’t have realised that Jackson’s breast was a more important issue than Iraq’s missing weapons of mass destruction. But the U.S. media is covering the breast-baring incident like the story of the century.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
An extract from Why Nude? Thoughts and reflections on social nudity by Howard Anderson
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