As we count down to the Super Bowl, let me make one big point and one small point about the language describing the breast-baring incident from last year's halftime show. I feel these things must be said because, as though enough hasn't already been said, it's reaching a crescendo again as the game approaches. I'm not the first to make these points, but nevertheless I need to get them off my chest. (Er, sorry.)
First, let's please stop calling this the Janet Jackson incident. Yes, it was (and is) her breast, but it seems to me that Justin Timberlake was the one who grabbed her costume and tugged. Shouldn't it be the Justin Timberlake incident, if we have to discuss it at all? Now, I could go on about the sexism of the media and society, the symbolism of blaming the victim, and the politics of sexuality, but I'll assign that for homework. Nor do I necessarily believe she had nothing to do with it -- presumably she had some agency over the choreography and costuming. I don't know how to apportion blame, but I also know that practically no one else talking about it does either. So, if we go only by what we observed, it makes far more sense to say that the balance of responsibility lay with Justin Timberlake and the tug of his hand rather than Janet Jackson and her breast just sitting there, and therefore it ought to be his name that comes up every time someone talks about it.
Second, the smaller point, a moratorium on the use of "wardrobe malfunction" in everyday language. It was already tiresome an hour after last year's game and should go the way of "dy-no-mite!" and "talk to the hand."
Now, back to our regularly scheduled pre-Super Bowl media frenzy.