In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now Roseanne Barr shrieks the national anthem at a National League double-header. Then, in response to boos from the crowd of 30,000, grabs her crotch and spits.
It's true this might not qualify for a federal grant, but the question is: Is it art?
Some would say no, but these are the sort of slender minds that take exception to records celebrating racism and sexual mutilation, a rock group named "Dead Kennedys" or the leisure pursuits of the mayor of the nation's capital as testified to in his current trial.
Others, of a broader view, would see in her performance Wednesday night at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego a general celebration of her top-rated TV show, the level of subtlety, wit and sophistication evident everywhere today in cinema and broadcasting, and, in fact, a general attaboy for the entire current state of American popular culture.
Greaseman, call your office.
Not everyone who showed up for "Working Woman's Night" with the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds took the broader view. Spectator Jannette Davis of San Diego told the Associated Press, "This was supposed to be a night of saluting those who worked hard, and she made us feel like crap."
Said Padres pitcher Eric Show: "I can't believe it happened. It's an insult. There are people who died for that song."
Actually, Barr's effort appeared to salute primarily the corporate conglomeration of professional sports and entertainment in America. Tom Werner, who became the chairman and managing partner of the Padres this season, also is the co-creator and executive producer of ABC-TV's "Roseanne."
He met privately with Padres officials for 45 minutes Wednesday night and then refused to talk to reporters directly. Calls left at his Los Angeles office yesterday were not returned. Attempts to contact the Padres by phone met continuous busy signals.
The team issued an apology, however, saying:
"The Padres recognize their obligation to ensure that the national anthem is sung with respect and dignity. ... It is apparent we did not do our part because many fans were offended both by the rendition and Roseanne's gestures. To those fans, we apologize and make the commitment that in the future we will strive to see the anthem is presented with the dignity it is due."
National League President Bill White said: "We have discussed it with the Padres and are in agreement with their apology. We are satisfied that they will take all necessary steps to assure it will not happen again."
It had, however, happened before, in a fashion. Last year at a World Series game in Oakland, Barr bared her considerable fundament to the crowd, disclosing a tattoo honoring "Tom." Her husband's name is Tom Arnold.
This year, Barr declared she wouldn't be trying for laughs when she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." But she plugged her ears with her hands at the start of the song, then gave a wailing rendition. When boos rose from the crowd, she grabbed between her legs and spit on the ground.
The boos resumed when she left the field later.
"I think I did great and people wanted more," Barr told a reporter before leaving the field.
Just what effect this all will have on her TV show remains to be seen. If the ratings climb, watch for her soon at a ballpark near you.