The FCC has finally put a price on a woman's breast. It is $550,000.
What happened, as everybody knows, was that Janet Jackson showed one of her breasts at halftime during the Super Bowl. Eight hundred million people (China included) were horrified. No one had ever seen a woman's breast before, except in National Geographic.
The reaction was tremendous. Mothers blindfolded their children; husbands turned off their TV sets and never saw the second half of the game.
How could a major network allow the display of a body part, including a nipple, for all the public to see? More indignant calls came into the network than when President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The FCC had no choice but to deal with it. The problem was, no one at the agency had ever seen a bare breast before. This was cold flesh.
The meeting to decide on a CBS fine was held in FCC headquarters. There was a large-screen TV at one end of the room. The commissioners were nervous.
"Do we have to see it?" one of them asked.
"Yes," the chairman replied. "It is our duty to protect every man, woman and child in America."
"We didn't get any calls from men," a commissioner pointed out.
"It doesn't matter. A breast is still a breast. Roll 'em."
Janet Jackson appeared on the screen during halftime festivities, and suddenly, while she sang with Justin Timberlake, her costume gave way. It was only a few seconds, but it seemed like a lifetime.
"Play it again," a commissioner said. "This time close in on her."
It was obvious to everyone in the room that there was something wrong with the outfit.
"We should fine the costume designer," someone said.
They played the smoking gun 10 more times.
Then a commissioner said, "I am not saying it's so, but suppose this was no accident?"
The room was silent. "Why would any pop singer show her breast in public?"
"To sell her records and be talked about on every radio show in America."
"If this is true, then CBS allowed it to happen."
"And should be fined so they never do it again."
A commissioner said, "It will prove to the world we are a moral nation."
"What we're saying is, if you allow one of your stars to rip her clothes off, you'll have to pay the piper."
"But how much should we fine the network?"
"Five hundred and fifty thousand dollars."
"That's very harsh."
"It sends a message to any entertainer that the people who watch the Super Bowl are very fragile, and we, the FCC, took an oath to protect them."
"Play it again to make sure we're not making a mistake."
The meeting was adjourned. Where are Janet Jackson and CBS now? She is more in demand than ever and gives concerts when she isn't attending her brother Michael's trial.
CBS is now dealing with the Dan Rather brouhaha and has proven that Janet's breasts are her own -- not forgeries.
(c) 2004 Tribune Media Services